$122m would buy a heck of a lot of stuff

Imagine how South Coast residents would benefit if four new cancer centres were built between Wollongong and the Victorian border. Think about how many lives would be improved if 120 much needed homeless shelters were built throughout the region. 

What if the people with disabilities and mums with prams could use a lift at Unanderra railway station did not have to confront the daily struggle with stairs every single day? They could have their long-awaited lift and there’d be money to fund 20 more at stations across the state. 

When you take into consideration the amount of money the federal government has earmarked for the postal vote on same sex marriage – $122 million – and think about where it could be better spent, it takes your breath away.

The plan is for what is essentially an opinion poll of dubious statistical merit, doubling up on endless polls already conducted that clearly indicate most Australians want marriage equality.

It is being conducted not to honour an election promise but to placate the warring factions in the federal Liberal Party. The election promise for a plebiscite could not be honoured because the government was not elected with a sufficient majority; it was returned with a one seat majority (hinging on less than 2000 votes in Gilmore) and a cross-bench heavy Senate.

Australians had their say in 2016 and returned the parliament we have. 

The money tied up in this exercise would fund roughly a third of the cost of the new Shoalhaven River bridge. It would pay for a new high school desperately needed in Milton Ulladulla, two South Nowra highway upgrades, a significant part of the Albion Park Rail bypass. 

It would pay for legal aid for the disadvantaged in many South Coast communities, help struggling mums with childcare, relieve pressure on families struggling with stratospheric power bills – the list goes on and on.

The politicians who have come forward to say Australians are fed up hearing about the issue are on the money. The opinions polls are in; the majority want change. The sky will not fall if that change is made.

There are so many other pressing issues the government needs to attend to. Further navel gazing at great cost to the taxpayer simply drags the issue out. It makes the Prime Minister look weak.

Worse, it makes the government look wasteful with our taxes.