Too many pol­lies

Geelong Advertiser - - YOUR SAY -

THE com­ments by the Gee­long Mayor in his ex­clu­sive Addy col­umn on this page are un­usual and even a lit­tle ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Not be­cause they are non­sen­si­cal, not be­cause they are ex­treme and not even be­cause they’re in­cor­rect.

In fact they are no­table pre­cisely be­cause such log­i­cal straight-talk so rarely em­anates from the halls of lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

It is even rarer for peo­ple to tell hard truths when it is against their own self-in­ter­est.

Which is why we don’t of­ten hear politi­cians stat­ing what many of us see as patently ob­vi­ous: there are too many lev­els of gov­ern­ment in Aus­tralia.

Mayor Bruce Har­wood’s pro­posal of some kind of merged state-coun­cil level over­seen by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is an in­trigu­ing one.

Po­ten­tial ben­e­fits would in­clude the ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of coun­cil ser­vice con­tracts across the state with sav­ings po­ten­tially be­ing handed back to ratepay­ers.

As we pay our var­i­ous rates, fees, du­ties, in­come taxes and goods and ser­vices taxes, few of us would feel that the mon­ey­grab of our triple-headed gov­ern­ment could not be re­duced.

In the im­mor­tal words of the late Kerry Packer: “Any­body in this coun­try (who) doesn’t min­imise their tax ... want their heads read be­cause as a gov­ern­ment I can tell you you’re not spend­ing it that well that we should be do­nat­ing ex­tra.”

There are many ad­mirable good works that coun­cils can do from pools to li­braries to Meals on Wheels.

But in a shrink­ing glob­alised world even the things that we see as coun­cil is­sues in­creas­ingly re­quire broader so­lu­tions.

A case in point is the tick­ing time­bomb is­sue of re­cy­cling. What could be a more quin­tes­sen­tial totem of coun­cil re­spon­si­bil­i­ties than the beloved wheelie bin? And yet when China stops tak­ing the na­tion’s re­cy­cling, that re­quires a big fix.

Some on the pub­lic teat won’t like his com­ments but the Mayor is ab­so­lutely right.

This is a con­ver­sa­tion we need to have.

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