Dou­glas hits out at red tape waste

Bloom­field Bridge stresses shire

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

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.”

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Bloom­field Bridge . . . a fi­asco

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