The Western Australian elections

They're tomorrow, and for those who haven't been following it much at all, here's basically the way it stands thanks to the editorial in The Australian.
AUSTRALIAN electors are a tolerant lot, generally loath to throw out governments after only one term. But in Western Australia voters have good grounds to make an exception and dismiss the Gallop Government when they vote tomorrow.

Running the state should not be hard. With a resource-based economy which is less growing than galloping ahead at 7.5 per cent a year, born largely of China's insatiable desire for the state's gas and minerals, the job of government is basically to ensure public infrastructure is in place and to stay out of the way of the wealth-creating private sector. Yet Premier Geoff Gallop has managed to make a mess of providing services, which is the staple of state administration.
The article then goes on to list the more prominent errors of Gallop's term, however it also points out that the Liberal Party, under Colin Barnett, have done next to nothing to show why they should be in charge either. Barnett's mistake yesterday was a comical howler:
Journalist: "Under the figures, you'll be in deficit in 2006-2007."

Barnett: "No, I'm sorry, we won't, we'll be in surplus."

Journalist: "That's what your numbers show."

Barnett: "No, we'll be in surplus, I assure you."

Journalist: "Your number is wrong then." Within an hour of the press conference, Mr Barnett telephoned media outlets to apologise and explain that a critical column of figures had been omitted from the documentation.
Matt Price called it "unutterably excruciating", and it's hard to disagree. That "critical column of figures" ended up being 11 areas where the extra $205 million was saved.

The other big story of the campaign is the 3700km canal going pretty much all the way across the state which Barnett plans to build. It's a huge public work like you'd see in Roman times, and while it sounds good in theory, there are two sides to it:

COST: It could end up costing more than $4 billion, while it has been costed (non-independently, mind you) at under $2 billion. This will require extra funding, which Barnett is almost certain not to get. So basically, he's screwed, unless he can convince someone with the cash of the...

BENEFITS: "It estimated the canal will add $475 million a year directly to Western Australia's regional economy, turnover effects will add a further $1.14billion, wages and sales $147 million, while 2800 direct jobs and indirect employment for a further 600 people will be created." That sounds quite good, but we all know it won't work quite as well as that. A run through of the facts of the canal, with a noticable Barnett slant can be found here.

Now for those that think that this isn't really that much money we're talking about, Western Australia is a state of around 2 million people, and the total cost of Gallop's promises comes to $1.1 billion. So to West Australian voters, you have a choice between more of the same horridness and something that could potentially be a lot worse, but at least has plans.

I'd lodge a protest vote (Christian Democrats, Family First, Democrats, it doesn't really matter as long as it's not the Greens) with preferences to the Liberals, and preference Labor in the Senate. The more pressure forced on whoever wins after their victory, the better.

(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels. And no, I'm not from Western Australia and thus I won't be voting.)

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