Too many pollies
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.