My friend Geoff writes from Sydney:
"I am seriously considering setting up a cross-party organisation called 'NSW Centre Party' or somesuch to try and hold the balance of power in both houses with the following objectives:
1) Remove all retirement benefits other than statutory superannuation from Parliamentarians and Ministers both former and existing. Make all payments to Parliamentarians and Ministers available on the web, plus all their office accounts; all published on the web. No using stamp allowances for party political literature ever again.
2) Set up a Department of State Development modeled loosely on the Singapore Ministry of National Development and provide effective interdepartmental coordination for projects deemed to be significant. Close down the Departments of Small Business.
3) Encourage business by radically reducing Government red tape and making government information and services available on-line, if necessary by reconceptualising service provision across departments.
4) A policy framework to encourage Sydney to grow at a faster rate by reducing the fixed costs of developing land and by completely restructuring the current development control framework.
5) Forced amalgamation of Councils to achieve a minimum population base of 500,000 in Sydney with a firm division of responsibility between the State Government and Councils. (Four rather than about 16 Councils in Sydney and about another six for the rest of NSW) There are currently over 150 Councils in NSW; all overstaffed and overpaid.
6) Introduce a congestion charge for central Sydney and gradually introduce road use charges with the aim of raising sufficient cash over 30 to 50 years to pay off a giant upfront loan to extend the rail network, including the provision of a fast train from Williamtown to Kiama. This would open up a lot of cheap flat land to development which would provide housing for working families.
7) Fix DOCS by splitting off its child protection responsibilities and making this their highest priority.
8) Fix the Education department by focussing on outcomes and not class sizes, and by allowing private providers to contract to provide education to State students at open tender.
9) Fix the health system by providing a system of polyclinics to take the load off Emergency Departments.
10) Reestablish the Building Services Commission.
11) Spill all positions on government boards, quangos and stats and appoint based on merit using a transparent system."
I really, really like it! Pity I moved to Canberra and lost my vote.