Oct 29, 2012

We should get a direct dividend from boom - The West Australian

We should get a direct dividend from boom - The West Australian

Larry Graham, a former ALP and independent State MP, wants citizen income for Western Australians.

He has sharp words for sovereign funds that have no clear purposes, other than making money.

"We know little about the Barnett proposal but he is said to favour an Act of Parliament to protect a fund that will provide money for major infrastructure. As infrastructure funding is already a Federal and State budget responsibility, this is where the trap lies. The experiences of funds established on similar grounds around the world demonstrate clearly that the model proposed by Mr Barnett can only lead to jurisdictional cost-shifting, political manipulation and budget balancing acts. It is the model most likely to produce the worst outcomes for the State and Mr Barnett needs to revisit and revise his aims in establishing a fund on this basis."

He advocates a sovereign fund that pay dividends as citizen income to citizens.

"WA could do no better than to imitate the successful Alaskan Permanent Fund. Established 35 years ago by constitutional amendment, it came about when Alaskans expressed displeasure at how their politicians had frittered away the proceeds of their 1970s oil boom.

Since establishing the fund, Alaska ...is returning annual cash benefits to its citizens."

He advocates "ownership" means a direct share of the wealth. Citizen ownership should not be an empty election slogan.

"West Australians are led to believe that they are the owners of the resources and many wonder, if this is so, why they are not sharing directly in the proceeds of the boom. A distinctive feature of the Alaskan fund is that it — independent of any political processes — assesses its performance and pays an annual dividend to its citizens."
"Unlike us, Alaskans do get a share of the wealth generated by their resources."


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