| 15.01,12. 11:28 AM |
I'm only a B+ Premier says Barry O'Farrell
January 15, 2012
BARRY O'Farrell would give himself an above-average B or a B-plus for effort in his first year as premier of NSW.
Not perfect, but then Mr O'Farrell doesn't believe he will ever deliver a 10-out-of-10 political year.
"I'll never give myself an A or an A-plus, because I'm one of those people who believes there's always room for improvement - that's what I always tell my sons," the Premier told The Sunday Telegraph as enters into his second year following his resounding election win on March 26 last year.
"The public starts with the view that politicians have tickets on themselves," Mr O'Farrell said. "I don't have tickets on myself. I've been given a four-year mandate to reform the state, and that's what I'm going to do.
"My HSC is not in March this year, it's not in March next year, it's in March 2015 and it's not a culmination of one year's work, it's a culmination of five years' work."
Mr O'Farrell said the government had made "a good start" despite a "few hiccups" from some ministers who would only improve as they lost the training wheels and gained more experience.
These hiccups included Environment Minister Robyn Parker's handling of a series of leaks at the Orica chemical plant in Newcastle and embarrassment over Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner's midnight decision to sign on for the former Labor government's bungled Solar Bonus scheme.
The Premier reeled off as successes the creation of Infrastructure NSW, the beginning of the north-west and south-west railways, upgrades to the Princes and Pacific highways and more than $390 million in upgrades to hospitals in towns such as Dubbo, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga.
"I don't think any government has in its first year commenced so many infrastructure projects that were outstanding," Mr O'Farrell said. "We've ensured that we've introduced rigorous financial management. We've put public interest and the long-term interest of the state over responding to daily media headlines."
He highlighted four crucial events for his government's second year.The first comes later this month when NSW Commission of Audit chief Kerry Schott will tell Mr O'Farrell how to improve efficiency and save money in the state's public sector.
The second is in April, when the O'Farrell government will focus on revamping planning laws.
Mr O'Farrell said the budget in June would be another seminal moment, as the government tries to juggle "moving the state forward" with a growing global financial crisis "which can't be used as an excuse" not to do so.
He suggested it could be tougher this time around, with last September's budget criticised in some sectors as being too soft.
"That means wherever waste exists, we have to ensure it's cut out and every dollar that's spent has to be spent wisely."
The fourth most important milestone will come in September with the release of Infrastructure NSW's 20-year plan for a costed and prioritised program for building the roads and railways the state so desperately needs.
"It's about providing confidence to the community and the business community who rely on this infrastructure to help the state's economy," the Premier said.
Mr O'Farrell pledged that priorities rather than politics would influence these transport decisions. He said poor infrastructure planning stretched back to former Labor premier Neville Wran's promise to inner-west electorates to sell off land intended to build the M4 East extension in 1976.