Monday, February 19, 2007

Pork barrel politics in NSW

NSW Premier Morris Iemma has launched Labor's campaign for the state election by making more than $2 billion worth of promises on education, health, water and policing.

Being relatively new to Australia's political scene, on first reading of this magnanimous gesture by Morris Iemma, i was stunned by how much personal wealth it takes to get to the top in local politics.

However, on further reading i discovered that he didnt' plan to donate his own personal money to the state of NSW, but the taxpayers'.

'Mr Iemma said a re-elected Labor government would spend $2 billion over four years on improving infrastructure in public schools. He also promised 40 new specialist police to combat domestic violence, 125 scholarships for rural midwives to upgrade their skills in major hospitals and 125 scholarships to attract more midwives to the bush. Mr Iemma promised to spend $130 million on a water recycling pipeline in western Sydney, to supply water for non-drinking purposes.'

In the US, the practice of buying votes by promising extra spending is called 'pork barrel' politics and is frowned upon. It is, in short, bribery.

"In politics, a pork barrel politics is a derogatory term describing government spending that is intended to benefit the constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes".

However given the total lack of comment by the media or by Opposition leaders, i guess it is the norm here.