RAISING THE BARR: Schools and hospitals should be prioritised

WORTH IT? Do we really need a very expensive new sporting stadium like this when the cost has blown out massively since the Sydney Olympics?
WORTH IT? Do we really need a very expensive new sporting stadium like this when the cost has blown out massively since the Sydney Olympics?

As most readers will be aware, I had sent out a petition calling for the NSW Government to prioritise their spending of $2.5 billion.

Most would agree, even the keenest of sports fans, that schools and hospitals should surely receive funding before we indulge ourselves with sports stadiums.

I want to thank the hundreds of people that have already returned their petitions. Your support is greatly appreciated. I am hoping that our community can get more than 10,000 signatures which would force the government to deal with the matter in Parliament.

Given that one of the stadiums that might be knocked down and rebuilt is the Olympic Stadium at Homebush I thought that I would do some research into the Olympic spend.

It turns out the entire Sydney Olympics cost the state of NSW $1.5 billion, including all sports and accommodation centres being built, as well as all competitions, temporary sites, transport, events and food and drink for the athletes. For anyone that has been to any of the Olympic venues across Sydney, most of course at Homebush, you would surely recognise that the build is enormous.

It is hard to fathom how stadium construction could have blown out by such extraordinary costs.

Should we re-regulate power prices?

You will at times hear people talking about the deregulation of power prices or the possible re-regulation of the same. In NSW the government made the decision to deregulate power in 2014.  What this meant, in essence, is that the ceiling price was removed.

That’s right, the Government made the decision to remove any limits on the maximum price that could be charged. The logic used during that debate in Parliament was that by removing the maximum charge, the ceiling price, then more businesses would enter the market and that would create competition. It was also argued that people should contact each of the providers and “negotiate” a better price for themselves. It was assumed that everyone had the power of negotiation. To use a comparison, consider the trick of buying a car and negotiating a price, or going into a retailer and asking for a discount on a shelf product.

The truth is that some people have the ability to do this, and others don’t. It is fair to say that you have to have a fair bit of self-confidence, as well as a willingness for confrontation and conflict, to be a good negotiator. Meanwhile without a maximum price in place, the cost of power is sky-rocketing and I am sure we are all feeling it – even those that negotiated a big discount for themselves. Getting a 10 percent discount on electricity prices that have gone up by 30 percent doesn’t make you better off.

Making a contribution

In this past week I have attended the funerals of two very significant local people. Neither sought fame nor fortune, they simply just gave of their time and energy in a way that benefited the broader community at large. Listening to the eulogies I was struck by the importance of trying to make a difference in society; trying to etch out a few milestones along the way so that you leave the world a better place than when you arrived.  I encourage all readers of this column to make sure that they are doing their little bit to make our community a better place to live. Certainly, that’s what these two recently departed people did.

Clayton Barr is the State MP for Cessnock


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