We should en­cour­age our lead­ers to come for­ward with orig­i­nal ideas

The Argus - - OPINION - John mul­li­gan john­mul­li­gan@ar­gus.ie

BUD­GET 2019 is upon us this week and who knows ex­actly how it will shake out for each and ev­ery in­di­vid­ual when the dust set­tles.

In ad­vance of the bud­get we had mem­bers of the in­de­pen­dent al­liance float the idea of al­low­ing grants for the con­ver­sion of homes into granny flats.

I heard one ra­dio com­men­ta­tor crit­i­cise the in­de­pen­dent al­liance for hav­ing an idea and not a pol­icy two years into be­ing part of Gov­ern­ment.

There is some truth to that crit­i­cism, but also surely there should be no such thing as a bad idea.

Some ideas won’t make good pol­icy or are not af­ford­able but that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean it is not a good idea in the first place.

We need big ideas and blue sky think­ing.

What was the last good idea or fresh, unique pol­icy that you can re­mem­ber?

The smok­ing ban is one that springs to mind. There were guffaws when that was first mooted but it is now uni­ver­sally ac­cepted and has been rolled out in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The plas­tic bag tax is an­other which was a small yet prac­ti­cal idea which has proved ef­fec­tive, even if it has not solved the masses of plas­tic which are pol­lut­ing our coun­try­side.

The SSIA sav­ings scheme was an­other orig­i­nal idea which was of its time. It might not have solved the prob­lem of the over-spend­ing dur­ing the Celtic Tiger boom years, but it cer­tainly was taken ad­van­tage of by hun­dreds of thou­sands of or­di­nary mem­bers of the pub­lic.

In the UK they are mark­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of the Na­tional Health Service. A sa­cred cow, no UK Gov­ern­ment would ever dare to dis­man­tle the NHS how­ever un­af­ford­able it has be­come.

Imag­ine our Gov­ern­ment try­ing to take the free travel pass off those aged over 66. That was noth­ing more than idea at one point.

The truth is we need big ideas to solve the com­pli­cated is­sues of to­day, such as fund­ing the HSE, solv­ing the hous­ing cri­sis, tack­ling global warm­ing.

How orig­i­nal and in­no­va­tive will this year’s bud­get be? The leaks to date in­di­cate Bud­get 2019 will tweak with the ex­ist­ing mea­sures, giv­ing us some­thing with one hand and tak­ing some­thing from us with the other hand.

There will be noth­ing rad­i­cal or orig­i­nal if the well-placed leaks are any­thing to go by, yet we need some in­no­va­tive think­ing to ad­dress the is­sues of the day.

The same old, same old is not enough.

THE SMOK­ING BAN IS ONE THAT SPRINGS TO MIND. THERE WERE GUFFAWS WHEN THAT WAS FIRST MOOTED BUT IT IS NOW UNI­VER­SALLY AC­CEPTED

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