ACH20061106-140918websmall Hippopotamus.JPG

Back in February I said:

"There's a long time between now and the Federal Election for John Howard to provide funding for new child care centres or give roads funding for the residents of Ryde, Denistone and Epping."

Today the ABC news reports:

"Prime Minister John Howard is targeting voters on his home turf, promising more than $3 million in spending for his electorate of Bennelong in Sydney.

Mr Howard says most of the money would go towards a family and children's community centre."

I wonder how this works?
  • Prime Minister realises he's got a marginal seat
  • Prime Minister thinks he needs something to spread some contentment in his electorate
  • Prime Ministerial flunky phones Minister to make enquiries
  • Minister asks Department Head to make enquiries
  • Department Head asks staff to make enquiries
  • Departmental staff are shocked (yes, shocked!) to discover that in the demographic map of Australia, they've laid out Family and Children's Community Centres to cover every demographic except the suburbs of Ryde, Denistone and Epping (the seat of Bennelong).
  • So one day in early November 2007, funding is suddenly found to rectify this, and the Prime Minister is advised so he can announce a new centre.

That's how it works, isn't it? The Australian political system isn't subjected to individual pork barrelling? I'm a little confused by the fact that Community Centres are normally funded by State or Local Governments, not Federal ones. Maybe it's consistent with a robust view of the expansion of Federal Government powers... how long until they start offering to collect our garbage?

The phrase "a family and children's community centre" sounds different to the nationwide promise by the Liberals of "50 Family Emergency Medical Centres"... so I assume (perhaps unfairly) that Howard's promise from his electorate is not part of that scheme. If it were part of that scheme, his announcement would be defendable, as one part of a national program.

Now: Don't misunderstand me. This isn't exclusively an attack on Howard. I just hold Prime Ministers (and Opposition Leaders) to a high standard. There's a lot of pork barrelling. My question is: at what stage does it become so egregious that it distorts the political process and gives an overwhelming advantage to the incumbent? And would we notice if that happened?

Note on the picture that goes with this posting. It's a photo of a Hippopotamus at Melbourne Zoo. Hippopotamuses are even-toed Ungulates. So are Swine.

(I would have included a picture of a pig, to draw a connection with the topic of pork barrelling more directly. But unaccountably, in my photo collection (currently 35,000 photos), somehow I don't seem to have taken a single photo of a pig. Or if I have one, I haven't indexed it properly yet.)

Comments (1)
Anthony Holmes November 6th, 2007 11:14:34 AM