Just give us bang for our collective buck

Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.

Around this time last year, a Murray Bridge councillor suggested we publish a quiz asking people to identify which level of government was responsible for a list of projects.

Who would pay for a footpath on a main road? A pothole on a back street? A new swimming pool? A review of migrant visas? A crackdown on hoon drivers? The restoration of a wetland on the River Murray?

More on that in a moment.

On the face of it, though, it can be hard to get excited about federal government.

The single biggest takeaway from Tuesday's federal budget was a tax cut of roughly $10 a week, for which those of us in the workforce will surely be grateful when we get our returns in 2019.

There is more for small business and others, as our MP, Mr Pasin, has outlined elsewhere.

But Newstart is not going up, which could really have made a difference – read this story to see how difficult it is to rent a house when you're on benefits.

Meanwhile, the Murray-Darling Basin deal done between the major parties this week could have a dire effect below Lock One, if one believes the conservationists.

It will be interesting to see what the new state minister, Mr Speirs, makes of it when he visits the Lower Lakes this weekend.

Drop down a level and there's state government, which is a little closer to home.

But local government is where the action is, as far as our communities are concerned.

A new skate park opens in Murray Bridge, a grant is handed out to a history trail at Mypo, plans are afoot to pretty up Swanport Road – and, yes, all our property rates are going up again, as we expect every year.

It's easy to resent council rates.

Perhaps it is because they are visible: we have to pay them ourselves, rather than having them taken out of our pay or added to the cost of our groceries.

One wonders if we would all be more bitter if we received a $7000 income tax bill in the post every July.

But our council rates pay for those skate parks, history trails and street trees, plus bins and potholes and all the rest of it.

As to the quiz at the top: those projects would be funded by all different levels of government, often more than one.

Ultimately most of us probably don’t care, so long as the projects that get funded improve people's lives and give us value for money.