How much does policy cost you?

Ever wondered how much a certain policy costs you? Well, Senator Leyonhjelm thinks politicians should start explaining themselves in per capita terms, to give you a better idea of the personal cost of legislation.

Malcolm Turnbull is trying to get his ABCC bill through the Senate and, as a result, is having to give concessions to crossbenchers in order to curry their favour.

Senator David Leyonhjelm has won an interesting concession, which because it concerns transparency of government, is one from which all Australians should benefit.

It’s related to how ‘raw numbers’ are presented to the public. A number is referred to as ‘raw’ if there’s nothing to measure it against. Basically, they mean very little.

Senator Leyonhjelm wants next year’s budget to include more per capita numbers “as far as is practically possible”, to give Australians an idea of the personal cost of legislation.

Some examples of raw numbers versus per capita numbers are:

  • Stopping the boats

    • Raw numbers: $9.6 billion over four years

    • Per capita numbers: $100 per person, per year

  • Submarines program

    • Raw numbers: $50 billion over 15 years

    • Per capita numbers: $140 per person, per year (subject to population growth and inflation)

  • Marriage equality plebiscite

    • Raw numbers: $160 million

    • Per capita numbers: $6.60 per person

At Senator Leyonhjelm’s press conference on Monday, The New Daily asked him if he would also demand that the budget be split into “recurrent spending” and “capital investment”, to help expose our real debt and deficit situation.

Capital investment has the potential for financial returns over time, while borrowing to fund recurrent spending does not.

“We didn’t ask for that,” he responded. “If I thought of it I might have.”

Would you like to see the budget presented in per capita terms? Do you think the Senator should have extracted other concessions, such as the differentiating between recurrent and capital investment?

Related articles:
Super changes are now law
Is gun reform back on the agenda?
Seniors’ tax breaks in the firing line

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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