So the government has stirred from its slumber and has actually recognized that the State has been poorly served in its supply of energy.
It should be congratulated for recognizing the need to act, however belatedly. No South Australian would deny that something had to be done and, in time, the full analysis of their proposed solution will be revealed to a public that has been kept largely in the dark – literally and figuratively.
But something had to be done and the government has indeed done “something”.
It has clearly acted largely out of a realization that self-preservation has become the highest priority during the upsurge of public resentment and hostility to its record of bungling and incompetence. Their sense of impending doom and their obvious motivation does little to erase the fact that this government has been, by any measure, a failure.
The clear questions that arise include the obvious – why did it have to come to this before government did the job that it is well paid to do, namely to provide the people of this State with sufficient power to support a standard of living appropriate to a first world country?
However, assuming that the government’s solution will see the end of power outages and blackouts (for otherwise what is its purpose?) it would be churlish not to give them credit for their good intentions.
But of course the other questions that remain are many. This new proposal is going to cost the people of SA over half a BILLION dollars, money which other sectors of our society have been denied after being told that the government could not afford it.
Schools, medical services, infrastructure deficiencies and failures, mental health, the many thousands who are unemployed, our impoverished courts and justice system, the inadequate shelters and support services for victims of domestic violence, the lack of community services in rural and outlying areas, the disgraceful situation in indigenous health, public housing etc., etc., have all suffered from a denial of funds that government solemnly said were not available.
It is now clear that the money is available – it’s just that this collection of public servants decided that those needs were not sufficiently critical (read – would not produce sufficient electoral reward) to justify receiving any of it. In this regard, the public has clearly been lied to and deceived.
If that is a measure of how this government has treated the public in the past, as the ultimate mushrooms, why do they deserve to be trusted or believed about anything they say or do in the future? Coming up with a new policy is one thing. Given the experience of the last decade and more, whether they can be trusted to deliver results competently and efficiently is something else entirely.
If a government habitually denies funds to needy sectors of our community on the basis that they have no money, yet when the dark clouds of electoral annihilation gather overhead they suddenly discover a lazy half a billion dollars that can be dedicated to buying a brand new political life-raft, who are the mugs?
It is not about having a good idea or two. The new power station seems to be a good idea. But this state needs more than good ideas. It needs people of ability, people who would not let the situation descend to such dire straits before acting and people who do not mislead the public about our finances simply out of a desire to keep their jobs.
It is after all more than a question of ability. It is a question of trust. Something which our community has long since run out of and, unless our current political skunks change their stripes, will never return.