South Australian Minister for the Environment (2014)

Who Pays? Agreeing Fair Shares in Infrastructure Funding (South Eastern Drainage)

Many government decisions fall into the category where all avenues of action are open to criticism from some interested party. This is especially the case where it is viewed that “the government should pay” – and more so when government has historically done so. This is the case with the several thousand kilometres of infrastructure provided over many decades which comprise South East Drainage Network.

Government will occasionally judge that some assets are not public goods in the pure sense of the word, as the benefits provided fall disproportionately on a subset of the population rather than the whole.

In this specific situation, it is possible to argue that numerous subsets exist: there are those who hold land which grows in agricultural value, there are those who benefit from the wider agricultural industry, there are services who benefit from having a wealthier economy, and there are those who gain via the environmental benefits.

Weighing the comparative benefits among a mix beneficiaries necessarily opens up all possible decisions to criticism when made by an elected representative as there is a naturally subjective element. It is suggested that if a diverse group of everyday people from the community – likely spanning all points of view above – can find common ground as to how they wish to solve the problem that this may provide a solution which more people can trust.

Further Reading:

Final Report – SA Community Panel for SE Drainage
Process Design

In The Media:

Border Watch 13 March 2015 – Panel finalises drain funds options

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