There’s probably a fair few people who are aggrieved with the western suburbs of Sydney this week. Not only are we credited with a desire to continue the inhumane offshore detention system – now the region is one of the few to be provided with new government money from Tuesday’s budget, in the form of funds to build two road projects – the WestConnex and the widened roads to Badgery’s Creek Airport.
It looks at this stage that there’s a belief underpinning it that building a couple of roads through a semi rural area to an airport that will be finished in 10 years or so and widening a road into the city that will attract a toll of up to $7.35 will stimulate the economy and have people continuing to vote Liberal. That won’t necessarily be the case, however, in the face of the other measures in the budget.
Families losing various payments such as the FTB Part B for children over the age of 6, having to pay $7 for a GP co-payment as well as paying increased fuel costs in a region with sparse public transport options is just the start of the grievances that will be aired and heard outside the cheerleading pages of the Daily Telegraph.
Parents with children finishing high school – a significant number in the west –will be facing some significant fears in regards their children. Not every person between the ages of 18 and 30 can build roads and airports. For those with children going to university – and there are many – the removal of caps on tuition fees will force parents into difficult decisions. They will have to consider how they can help their children both through university and afterwards, as the spiraling costs of the fees will have to paid by their children starting their independent life on top of other costs. This is assuming that a university degree will guarantee the graduates long term employment, which is a considerable assumption to make.
For those parents with children who are not going to university, the “earn or learn” mantra would not bring much comfort. Youth unemployment is high in the outer suburbs, as is the number of casual, contract and temporary jobs. The possibility of having their children go half a year without the Newstart allowance until the age of 30 will have some parents realising that they will either have to start a contingency fund in order to help their children, or have them live at home while they have a stop start beginning to their working lives.
This is assuming, of course, that parents will be wealthy enough to be able to continue helping their children. Or that the relationship between parents and their children won’t be strained if the children have to stay home until they are 30. Or that there are considerable problems between parents and their children and it would be good for everyone if the children move out of home at age 18. These 18 year olds who want to start a new life away from home face a much more difficult future, especially if these promised magic jobs from projects such as Badgery’s Creek don’t materialise.
Another problem area for the Government is the withdrawal of support for growth in solar energy generation, with the Million Solar Roofs rebate system removed. Many in the region have been busy installing solar panels – as this piece mentions – because they know that the energy cost savings long term will be greater than any repeal of the carbon price. The main barrier for some has been the issue of generating power during the day and feeding it into the grid and not getting proper compensation for power drawn from the grid at night. With that being addressed by improved battery storage technology, the possibility of the growth of solar in the west is considerable. As people look at the cost savings experienced by those around them who took advantages of past incentive schemes, there will be frustration for many who will note that the Government seems to be against people wanting to save energy costs in this way. They may start thinking that the cutting back of renewable energy support is a sop to the miners who donate considerable amounts to the Liberal Party.
I can understand why people suffering under the yoke of what is a punitive, mean spirited budget would dislike Western Sydney for the money being spent on it. Hospitals, schools, unemployed people, disabled people and so many more deserve government support than a toll road and some roads to an airport that is more than 10 years away.