May 2, 2012

Vic budget – slashing services for the poor, building $500m private prison. Contrast ignored by media

With the release yesterday of a state budget by

Pure Poison IconWith the release yesterday of a state budget by the Steven Bradburies of Australian politics, Ted Baillieu’s Liberals, Victorians were thrilled to learn of massive spending cuts (including letting basic utility discounts for very low income earners fall behind inflation) in order to pander to the right-wingers’ insane fixation on surpluses-at-all-costs.

Interestingly, none of the coverage seemed to contrast the cuts with the vastly more money Baillieu’s team is spending increasing sentences and building a $500m new private prison – you know, to really lock in that crime rate and work to build it. Rehabilitative programs that actually do work – those are being slashed. But expensive new prisons that train minor offenders in more serious crime? And the extra court time needed to deal with increased contests due to mandatory sentences? For those, we can always find money. Because none of the media dare to say a word against them (The Age) – or are outright screaming for them (The Herald Sun).

But you’d think the contrast would be worth noting in budget coverage. Haven’t seen it attempted yet.


27 thoughts on “Vic budget – slashing services for the poor, building $500m private prison. Contrast ignored by media

  1. jules

    rm its an intense film isn’t it. Not for the squeamish.

    Have you seen this? Someone made beautiful music out of Nick Cave going off in the film:

    “Hey Riddle, I’ve got a riddle for ya…”

    What happens if you cut social programs and build more private prisons?

  2. podrick

    We are getting our on version of Cando austerity in Qld at the moment.

    It is worth noting that this article appeared online with the Curious Snail but has been removed from the main page. It also failed to make the print version today. Maybe the sacking of up to 20,000 public sector workers is not as newsworthy as “Is your school top in truancy” or “Moreton beaches reopen for 4WDs”.

  3. returnedman

    When I saw “Ghosts of the Civil Dead” at the cinema in 1989, only half the original audience was left by the end of the film.

    I’m still haunted by Nick Cave’s mad rantings as they dragged him across the prison floor … what’s that? Oh, he wasn’t acting …?

  4. jules

    SHV That’s right, tho its something I’ve thought about for years, – Murphy articulated it so well that from now on I’ll just rehash whatever he said.

    Here’s his blog for anyone who is interested:

    (FWIW wasted energy contributes to economic growth – leave your light or computer on or a CD running all night and you’ve contributed to it.)

    I’m glad someone else read that piece and found it well worth the energy expended on reading it.

  5. jules

    It actually is I’m afraid. Maybe thopse figures (off the top of my head) are out slightly, but the principle is sound. Given the exponential rate of increase it won’t matter for centuries, but … all economic growth is accompanied by an increase in energy use in that economy (regardless of population increases or stability).

    There is no system of energy use that gives 100% efficiency of conversion. Some energy is always lost as waste heat. The earth radiates heat at a fixed rate – that is why we have AGW as a problem these days, so as more waste heat is added to the system eventually it’ll come to a point where more energy is used resulting in more waste heat than the earth can irradiate local space with. (OK AGW will probably have already caused this tipping point before waste heat from economic growth does but still. The trouble with economics is that is often done on paper without full recognition of the physical limits of the systems economies take place in.)

    If budget surpluses lower economic growth this process will take longer. I admit that is unconventional wisdom but anyway – it is just a point worth noting. BTW I’m not a right wing surplus freak, its just that lowering growth rates is one upside to surpluses I’d never considered.

  6. SHV

    MR @ 20;

    I suspect Jules may have been referring to an excellent piece about a discussion between a “finite” physicist and an “exponential” growth economist:

    [Physicist: {sigh of relief: not a space cadet} Alright, the Earth has only one mechanism for releasing heat to space, and that’s via (infrared) radiation. We understand the phenomenon perfectly well, and can predict the surface temperature of the planet as a function of how much energy the human race produces. The upshot is that at a 2.3% growth rate (conveniently chosen to represent a 10× increase every century), we would reach boiling temperature in about 400 years. {Pained expression from economist.} And this statement is independent of technology. Even if we don’t have a name for the energy source yet, as long as it obeys thermodynamics, we cook ourselves with perpetual energy increase.

    Economist: That’s a striking result. Could not technology pipe or beam the heat elsewhere, rather than relying on thermal radiation?]

  7. Aliar Jones

    [Bob sounds like he’s been programmed by the Australian. What an independent thinker.]

    Might be a bit of stretch describing what Bob does as thinking MW..

  8. MR

    That’s not right at all Jules, but in any event, the issue here is the conventional wisdom about budget surpluses…

  9. jules

    Lower economic growth is actually a good thing. We actually need to stop economic growth.

    Otherwise we’ll cook. Even without global warming due to anthropogenic CO2 production economic growth at current rates will probably boil the surface of the planet in about 400 years. Of course everything except extremophiles will be dead long before that, so it may not come to such an extreme situation but none the less economic growth will cook us.

  10. jules

    The whole thing is on youtube Rob, tho its probably censored. I was trying to organise it to be shown at a film festival a few years ago, before family illness got in the way. I had a very interesting email chat with Evan English who co wrote and also produced it.

    He was a little disturbed about how it was still quite relevant, especially since Sept 11, and that was before the Bally Hoo govt got elected.

    If people haven’t seen it, well its a prison movie, set in a private prison. Its about the way the prison spirals out of control in response to something … its never really stated what, but probably the punish scumbags mentality that drives harsher sentencing and more lock ups run by companies with highly dodgy international records.

    Cutting funds to the poorest people in society while setting up a new private prison is a recipe for continued problems and a gift for the prison industrial complex. We end up with a situation where money that could have prevented crime goes to private prisons who have a vested interest in there being more criminals and more serious crime. I spose its good if you own shares in G4$ or its subsidiaries, but for the people of Victoria its a disaster.

  11. returnedman

    JS: Impressive bullshit there, BB.

    BB: Which bit?

    Oh, by Crikey that was a funny exchange. Gotta love right-wing trolls without a shred of irony.

  12. Jeremy Sear

    By definition, fiscal surpluses cause the economy to experience a lower rate of growth than would otherwise be the case. Expressed differently (in politician speak), those who support fiscal surpluses support lower economic growth. I’m betting if there was a debate framed this way, people might be forced to at least consider economic policy more thoughtfully…

    That’s a very good point.

  13. Jeremy Sear

    Which bit ?

    The bit where you pretend that the successful home insulation scheme (in deranged far-right speak, “pink batts”) was an actual failure (as opposed to a political failure, in the sense that the ALP once again ultimately gave up defending itself from News Ltd lies). Or the bit where you pretend that the also successful Building the Education Revolution stimulus program was some kind of byword for waste and mismanagement. (Which it wasn’t.) And so on.

    See, these dumb right-wing talking points don’t actually stand up to any scrutiny, which is why you run them quickly together in a list hoping the number of random words might make them sound significant. Works a treat over at certain blogs, I suspect, but not here.

  14. MR

    Jeremy, I think it is fair to say that the ‘insane fixation for surpluses at any cost’ has for a long time had bi-partisan support in Australia. Personally I think this is probably not a bad thing, but the truth is that there is absolutely no public debate about the obvious consequences of this policy measure. By definition, fiscal surpluses cause the economy to experience a lower rate of growth than would otherwise be the case. Expressed differently (in politician speak), those who support fiscal surpluses support lower economic growth. I’m betting if there was a debate framed this way, people might be forced to at least consider economic policy more thoughtfully…

  15. RobJ

    [Has anyone seen Ghosts of The Civil Dead?]

    Oh yes…

  16. RobJ

    [Torie ]

    That would be ‘Tory’, thanks for proving my point. 😉

    Having said that Brown Bob it’s better to be stupid than evil (IMO).

  17. monkeywrench

    “Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall, in an extraordinarily candid letter obtained by The Age, said he shared the ”emotions of shock, incredulity, disbelief and anger” of TAFE leaders when they were briefed on the cuts last Friday.”

    Apparently he thought of ‘throwing in the towel’. But didn’t, such is his integrity.

  18. monkeywrench

    Bob sounds like he’s been programmed by the Australian. What an independent thinker.

  19. jules

    Actually J its just run of the mill bullshit.

    Has anyone seen Ghosts of The Civil Dead?

    While we’re on the subject of private prisons.

  20. Brown Bob

    [Tories are either evil or stupid or both. ]
    LOL where’s the Torie fighter when we need him 🙂

    Maybe he’s gone to England to find some ?

  21. Brown Bob

    Which bit ?

  22. Jeremy Sear

    Impressive bullshit there, BB.

  23. Brown Bob

    500 MILLION !!! My god for that sort of money they could have taken out a few more of the pink bats that we just spent the odd billion or so installing. Or maybe built a few toilet blocks and undersized canteens (at BER prices)…or started a green loans program…or they could have spent the money not building a CBD metro. Quick – release the prisoners ! (Maybe we would have got more use out of a “Prison Watch” than a “Fuel Watch eh?)

  24. podrick

    $500 million, thats 7,000 public servants, more than they are getting rid of.

  25. RobJ

    [Isn’t that exactly what Gillard/Swan are screaming?]

    Well they are right wingers. I say:

    Tories are either evil or stupid or both. (there are exceptions, Tories or small C Conservatives with a social conscience)

  26. SBH

    But wait – there’s more. Kim wants to sack 4,200 public servants. Now leaving aside the fact that that’s 4,200 people with families and bills and stuff being dumped out onto one of the softest employment markets in Australia, leaving aside that those people do actual work like make sure doctors nurses police and teachers get paid and have the tools facilities and laws necessary to do their jobs (I’m guessing principals will all get together to work out how much each school gets and how and when they get it rather than some useless, central office shiny bum) and even leaving aside the impact of increasing state unemployment by another 4,200 jobs have a think about the cost to Victoria and Australia. Based on a quick guestimate of a VPS redundancies packages (4,200x$50,000) it will cost the Victorian Government something like 200,000,000.00 dollars to sack those 4,200 people. Based on a rough average salary of $70,000 the Australian Government will miss out on about $80,000,000 in income tax. State taxes, fines rates etc will also be reduced as these people stop buying or move interstate. It’s beyond me to calculate the unemployment and other benefits that will flow from this large number of sackings but the figure, like those above, will be huge.

    So when, next year or the year after, the Vic economy is still shit and you see Kim scratching his head trying to work out why and dumbly searching for words other than ‘living within our means’ point him to this post.

  27. Angra

    “right-wingers’ insane fixation on surpluses-at-all-costs” ?

    Isn’t that exactly what Gillard/Swan are screaming?

    Budget surplus…Victorian Libs – bad, Fed Lab – good.

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