Monday, 8 December 2014

WA Inc-arnated again

Suddenly every minister in the WA cabinet wants to pop a little extra onto car registration fees as a way of topping up their budget in the absence of regular funding from the State’s coffers. I think this means my little Peugeot will be sponsoring its own Government department. I'll put my hand up for Culture and the Arts – at least ballet dancers don’t eat much.

 I recall that there was a surcharge added to the car rego fees in the 1990's to pay for the indiscretions of WA Inc, for which we, as drivers were held responsible. I never quite figured that one out. I had assumed that rego fees would be reduced again once it was paid off, but after only twenty odd years my optimism has faded. Maybe the government took out a mortgage to pay it off, at 'private bank' interest rates, and they will start to pay off the capital any day now. That Laurie Connell was a lad and no mistake!

Now it looks likely that we'll have to pay a bit more each year by way of a Congestion Fee, because the current pittance hasn't been steep enough to keep us off the road. Sadly it seems that even making people unemployed doesn't stop them driving to Centrelink rather than hitchhiking, crawling or begging for the bus fare. Assuming there are buses to take them there.

 It's reassuring though that no-one has tried to pass the buck on the congestion problem by suggesting that the Government should take some responsibility for poor road planning. It's not like they could have guessed that if you design freeways that have wide bits and then skinny bits it's going to slow things down.
The only hope is if the Government makes a firm commitment to not spending money on road improvement. For start, they will be able to save a fortune on witches hats and those encouraging signs so appreciated by drivers crawling past in a ten km long tail back, as they issue a hearty electronic back slap of '6km/hour -well done!’ Furthermore, retaining our potholed and patched roads, (some of which could legitimately be granted 'heritage' status) will result in more careful driving, at least by those not in Government cars. Where road topography causes your major organs to undulate like a sackful of nervous jellyfish on a roller coaster, there is an incentive to slow down. While the Government may find that this has a negative impact on speed camera revenue,( d'oh, Dean Nalder) at least the Toorak Tractors will be able to get in a bit of 'off road' simulation without having to leave the Stirling Highway.

 So- it looks like the registration fees for my little car will be creeping up towards the $1,000 a year level and some economies will have to be made. Perhaps Mr Barnett would consider some sort of lease-back scheme on first borns? Now she's finished school, she certainly won't be able to afford to maintain a car and will sink under the weight of debt from a university education quicker than you can say ‘WA’s credit rating has been downgraded again'.

I've just heard though that the Government is planning on spending $280,000 on a urinal that rises from below ground in Northbridge at night to collect the waste of the wasted. So here's an idea to save some public money. Stop taking the piss.