Regional Australia desperately needs renovation. Luckily, Malcolm Turnbull is offering us sales, sales and sales.
He’s the Aussie Basil Fawlty hiring the cheap Spanish waiter and cut-price Irish builder to get all our work done at bargain basement prices.
Need a new rail line to get your freight to ports?
No need to build a new one. Malcolm’s men will cobble it together using century-old tracks, and save even more by bypassing those pesky inland freight hubs.
What about high speed Internet to run your business?
Forget that fancy new-age optical fibre. Malcolm will give it to us by reusing ageing copper wires and old pay TV cables.
Do your kids want an education?
TAFE is way too pricey. Malcolm will instead subsidise private institutes offering six-week online degrees with free iphones for kids who pay upfront.
Flying to Sydney for medical treatment?
Malcolm will cover a third, no maybe a quarter of the cost.
Stuck in a mobile black spot?
Far too expensive to fix. Just move to the city.
Whatever our problem is, Malcolm offers us the cheapest solution.
There’s only one slight flaw in Malcolm’s cost-cutting strategy. Regional infrastructure can not be built with stuff you get from the Reject Shop.
Using a cheap, shonky builder always ends up costing you more in the long-run. Just ask Basil Fawlty.
That bargain-price Melbourne to Brisbane rail line?
The price tag has doubled. And guess what? It doesn’t actually reach the port of Brisbane – you pay extra to truck it there from an inland suburb.
That cut price NBN that was supposed to faster and cheaper?
The cost has blown out too and the roll out is a pig’s breakfast.
That saving from cutting TAFE placements?
It means businesses have to hire costly foreign labour. And Malcolm has just made that even more expensive.
Not helping the sick get to big city specialists
They get sicker, and eventually it costs us all a fortune.
Leaving farmers out in a telecommunications black hole?
They can’t sell their produce, meaning exports and balance of payments suffer.
In fairness, previous governments on both sides of politics have also been guilty of cutting corners and having it backfire. They’re usually out of office by the time the mess is laid bare.
The only answer for is to keep reminding governments of every cost-price stuff up, constantly. Governments pay attention to organised groups who scream the loudest. In the digital age, there are many ways of hassling local members and Ministers and warning them about repeating past errors.
Basil Fawlty had his wife Cybil, and governments have angry voters.