Douglas hits out at red tape waste
Bloomfield Bridge stresses shire
IT looks just like most bridges do, but Douglas Shire’s unwanted bridge over the Bloomfield River at Wujal Wujal is actually gift wrapped with red tape.
It’s a symbolic but concrete example of the sort of bureaucratic hoop jumping that Douglas Shire Council says is damaging to small councils all over Queensland when it comes to their efficiency and therefore long-term sustainability.
The shire didn’t ask for the bridge and has been at pains to hand it back to the government, or indeed anybody who’ll take it.
It was foisted on Douglas Shire ratepayers by governmental funding rules that look to the creation of new assets rather than the renewal of existing ones – in this case the old causeway at Wujal Wujal.
The depreciation of the assets on council books means money has to be set aside every year towards the building of a new asset to replace that asset.
In the case of a $12m bridge, that’s a lot each year putatively being set aside which can’t be spent now when it’s needed.
In other words, the shire is unhappily on a treadmill of repeated iterations of $12m bridges (or the equivalent in future terms) forever, when it didn’t even want one.
Douglas Shire has stepped up and presented a submission about this sort of red tape at a public meeting in Cairns on June 1 held by the Infrastructure Planning and Resources Committee into the long-term sustainability of local government.
It also identified the sheer amount of reporting to the state authorities it must put up with.
“Council has raised the fact that most small councils are constantly challenged to meet the ever-expanding number of reporting and compliance obligations imposed by the State.
“As a small regional Council, Douglas is constantly striving to achieve efficiencies in how we deliver services for our communities,” DSC said.
“This aim is often in conflict with the compliance requirements of State and Federal Governments in our dealings with them.”
DSC said the state’s “onesize-fits-all” approach to these bureaucratic processes is unreasonable in its demands on the resources and staffing of small councils.
“Overall Council welcomes any input from the State on how we can reduce red tape between the different layers of government and recognition that a ‘one size fits all’ approach generally results in a lesser outcome for small councils trying to achieve “bang for their buck” on behalf of their communities.”
Bloomfield Bridge . . . a fiasco