George Cash

George Cash


    Opposition attempt to discredit public transport survey ill-founded

    3/02/1995 12:00 AM



    The Minister Assisting the Minister for Public Sector Management, George Cash, said the Opposition's latest attempt to discredit the Government's financial management was another illustration of just how devoid it was of credibility.


    "The same group of people that plunged the State into WA Inc and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars is now nitpicking over a legitimate Government survey aimed at improving Perth's public transport services," Mr Cash said.


    "The Opposition's so-called Wastewatch Task Force can hardly claim kudos for 'exposing' the survey when Transport Minister Eric Charlton detailed the situation to State Parliament on December 1, last year."


    Mr Cash said plans to plot all metropolitan bus stops had been discussed at agency level since 1991 and two years ago funding was sought.


    The information gathered over the next three months would assist with the planning of metropolitan public bus routes and improve information services to the public on bus routes and stop locations.


    "I have been advised by Transport authorities that the program is being conducted in the most cost-effective way possible," Mr Cash said.


    "The Department of Transport is utilising one of its own business units, Coastal Information and Engineering Services (CIES), as well as its own computer network to gather and store the information.  If the department had gone outside, the work would have cost in excess of $100,000."


    Mr Cash said it was sheer hypocrisy for the Opposition to worry about bus stop surveys when it had bungled the building of the Perth City Busport.


    "The Labor Party can hardly criticise the Government for trying to improve the public transport system when it saddled WA taxpayers with a $35 million facility on the city's doorstep when it should have been located in the heart of Perth's commercial sector," he said.


     "It was a planning bungle in which the only thing they got right was the colour - white!"


     Mr Cash said this latest attempt by Labor's Wastewatch task force to label the Government with financial mismanagement serviced to highlight its blinkered view of State affairs and its inept handling of financial issues.


    He said it represented a collection of unrelated items together with apparent double counting, errors in arithmetic and acknowledged guesswork.


    "The exercise is also hypocritical in that it ignores similar costs incurred by Opposition MPs who are also funded by the taxpayer," he said.


    "For example, Opposition media statements and the resources that go into planning media events are taxpayer-funded.


    "Also, Tom Stephens MLC was a Minister for 73 days under the previous government, during which time he incurred expenditure totalling nearly $91,000, which included $47,000 in travel expenses."


    Mr Cash said the Coalition Government was actually reversing some of the policy that under the previous government led to extravagant and wasteful spending and that for the first time since records were kept there was to be a reduction in net debt of the Western Australian Government.


    In one example, Government air charter costs under the Coalition had been reduced from more than $1.7 million a year to $931,000 a year - a saving of 43 per cent.


    "The previous government presided over the most significant deterioration in State finances in our history and is hardly in a position to give financial advice or criticism," Mr Cash said.


    Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595