Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's water torture as jobs evaporate

A great myth of government propaganda is that their activities create jobs.

Water Minister Tim Holding recently used our money to commission an "independent" report which estimated that the Wonthaggi desalination plant will provide a $1 billion boost to Victoria during construction.

He even added up the jobs -- 3180 during construction and 150 ongoing.

If government can create jobs like this it can vanquish unemployment and put an end to economic downturns.  Unfortunately it can do no such thing.

When it spends money that results in people being employed, government takes money from taxpayers.  In doing so taxpayers have less of their own hard-earned to spend on the things they value themselves.  This means reduced personal spending and fewer jobs in supplying the goods and services consumers value.

So the jobs "created" by government spending cannibalise other jobs which are destroyed because the government has reduced consumer spending.

But it's worse than this when government spending is on unproductive things like the proposed desalination plant.

Based on data reluctantly revealed by the government itself, the plant's costs of providing water to Melbourne at 301 cents per kilolitre, are four to five times the cost of supply from building a new dam on the Macalister River.

And the costs of a new dam on the Aberfeldy River with a tunnel to the Thomson Dam may be even less than this according to Geoff Crapper, who spent 30 years as a senior engineer with Melbourne Water.

What this means is that the costly desalination plant proposal is destroying far more jobs than are being created.

For a fifth or less of the desalination plant's price, new supplies can be tapped and piped to Melbourne from the rain that falls in Gippsland.

In rejecting such choices the Government is opting to throw away billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

There is an abundance of water available to be tapped on the Gippsland rivers.

Indeed, the available water is so excessive that it leads to flooding in Gippsland towns, causing a $115 million damage bill last year alone.

This will continue even if the most hysterical claims plugged by Minister Holding about climate change come about.

So, in addition to wasting money, the government is denying the community a mechanism to control flood damage in Gippsland towns.

Moreover, keeping the city short of water offers opportunities for the government to use taxpayers' money to buy votes.  Some $25 million has been given to companies and community groups as "seed funding" for more than 150 projects in water conservation, recycling, and the like.

That's money taken from taxpayers in general who are blissfully ignorant of the hand of government in their pockets.

By contrast, the beneficiaries would be gratefully aware of the government's generosity with the public's money.

Unfortunately, in not including urban water provision within its privatisation reforms, the Kennett Government left a huge area of infrastructure subject to political whims and patronage.

A weak and irresponsible government is causing Victorian industry and consumers to pay the price in water use restrictions, wasteful investments and misuse of taxpayers' funds.


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