One area WasteWatch will be exploring with interest are Australian Research Council (ARC) grants for our academics.
The ARC is supposed to fund research that is going to deliver ‘cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians’ but a number of projects have left us scratching our heads.
One grant we found is to send an archeologist to the South Pacific island of Vanuatu (at a cost of $350,000 over three years) to look at the remains of Christian missions. The abstract follows:
“The remains of Christian missions in southern Vanuatu are important heritage sites for local communities, and for their place in world history as part of one of the final frontiers of European colonialism. This project explores these sites to produce a new picture of everyday life that includes the perspectives of missionaries and native people.”
We are not 100% sure that this project is the best use of Australian taxpayer dollars. You can get more details about the grant on page 104 of this list.
Welfare spending is a big issue confronting Australian governments. It’s an even bigger issue now that the government has taken to (accidentally) giving out lottery sized payments to its customers.
One (un)lucky Brisbane mother of three received $2,022,012 in a single Child Support Agency (CSA) payment after a public servant accidentally typed the date (02/02/2012) into the section where the correct payment of about $3,000 should have been entered.
Instead of giving the money back, the Brisbanite went on a spending spree and is now looking forward to at least 18 months in jail and a $430,000 fine when she is released. All up she managed to spend around $160,000.
Government is costing us enough money without these sorts of stuff-ups. It is reasonable to think the CSA should have safeguards in place that prevent accidental multi-million dollar payments like this one.
Just imagine if this mistake had happened in December, because the payment would have been over $12 million!
Life as pollie would be stressful. Between wrestling with a budget that won’t balance, managing a twitter profile, kissing babies and cutting ribbons, it can all become a bit much at times.
It might seem only fair for Australian taxpayers to chip in and help ease the burdens felt by our poor politicians. So to help our stressed MPs, their staff and other public servants on Capital Hill, the government is spending over $10,000 to provide yoga classes at Parliament House for the coming year. The government spent $10k on yoga classes in 2012 too!
Given 2013 is an election year, we are already wondering who the most flexible MP will be.