While it is common for taxpayers to understand the challenges and burdens placed on certain areas are of the economy, health and education, for example, a constant narrative has emerged during the past few weeks of Parliament.
With departments releasing their 2018-19 annual reports, a statement that is constantly repeated is that the funds available are not meeting needs.
While the state government does not have a finite amount of money to fix all of these issues, there is one area of major concern that requires a more scrutinised examination leading into the new year, when Parliament returns.
While the state government has spoken of its "tough on crime" stance at every opportunity, this position is placing more and more pressure on the justice system, at all levels, and is leading to an increase in criminal cases and appeals needing to be addressed by the court. The Supreme Court annual report, released on Thursday, noted that the number of first instance criminal cases awaiting finalisation is growing quickly, and faster than anticipated.
The court's clearance rate has dropped to 72 per cent in 2018-19. Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates, in his annual report, released in October, however, has refused the Chief Justice for more court time for criminal matters due to a lack of resources. This pressure is felt all along with the justice department and its associated departments, prisoner numbers are on the rise and the backlog in the courts is expected to increase to 1000 cases by 2021. Streamlining the processes to reduce the backlog, which is something the state government is working on, will help to address some of the challenges. But funding will be key to increasing capacity and get more resources, namely people, into the court to handle the cases. While the movement has been made to ensure the government's tough stance on crime leads to safer communities, the resources that deal with this increase need to be examined. Otherwise, it's a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater - resources will continue to be stretched until something gives.