May­orsDesk

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - with w Mayor, Rachel Cham­bers

The busi­ness of gov­ern­ment. When I first was elected I was warned by some­one with decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­ern­ment about how slow the wheels of gov­ern­ment turn. I laughed…but I shouldn’t have. Com­ing from a small busi­ness back­ground I, like many of you, had of­ten won­dered why on earth our gov­ern­ment took so long to do any­thing. Each day I spent in my busi­ness, I could change some­thing that wasn’t work­ing, in­tro­duce an idea which may or may not work and jump onto any op­por­tu­nity. I spent money wisely and owned ev­ery out­come, good or bad. As I started writ­ing this col­umn this week, a fel­low Coun­cilor shared the story of Mo­ran­bah, a town whose po­si­tion ap­par­ently was de­cided by four men in a car af­ter only two hours of in­spec­tion and dis­cus­sion. These days I wouldn’t be brave enough to even guess how long that same de­ci­sion would take or how many peo­ple would be re­quired to make it. The frus­tra­tion Coun­cilors feel when wait­ing on a de­ci­sion from other lev­els of gov­ern­ment is ex­cru­ci­at­ing, par­tic­u­larly where it ap­pears to be a “no brainer”. The level of dis­ap­point­ment we feel when a de­ci­sion doesn’t go our way is pro­found. I ap­pre­ci­ate that com­mu­nity mem­bers feel this same level of frus­tra­tion and dis­ap­point­ment af­ter pas­sion­ately ad­vo­cat­ing to Coun­cil about some­thing they be­lieve to be a “no brainer”. So what are we all miss­ing? Why is our “no brainer” not al­ways a pri­or­ity of State or Com­mon­wealth gov­ern­ments and why is your “no brainer”, not al­ways a pri­or­ity of Coun­cil? Why can’t the wheels of gov­ern­ment go faster? In my ex­pe­ri­ence it is be­cause of these five (5) fac­tors: Long term vs short term vi­sion – cur­rently there is a yearn­ing for long term think­ing when mak­ing de­ci­sions how­ever these de­ci­sions are made in line with elec­tion cy­cles. There are two par­ties to this – yes, politi­cians have a lot to an­swer for, but as do the vot­ers who want politi­cians to react to each and ev­ery cri­sis, and who want it now. To make long term de­ci­sions, short term ones some­times need to be sac­ri­ficed. Risk/lit­i­ga­tion po­ten­tial – gov­ern­ments are so reg­u­lated that any slip up could be disastrous. There is leg­is­la­tion and poli­cies that many busi­nesses have the free­dom to move without. Cus­tomer Ser­vice Obli­ga­tions – Cus­tomer Ser­vice Obli­ga­tions (CSO’s) arise when a gov­ern­ment pur­pose­fully de­cides to do some­thing which they would not elect to do on a com­mer­cial ba­sis. In other words, the gov­ern­ment de­cides to lose money on some­thing in the in­ter­est of com­mu­nity (e.g. our com­mu­nity pools). In my ex­pe­ri­ence I had to change my way of think­ing from that of a busi­ness owner to that of a care­taker of com­mu­nity as­sets and live­abil­ity. As a busi­ness owner, I would never have made a de­ci­sion (ever) to lose money, whereas now when deal­ing with pub­lic money, there is an added com­plex­ity to de­ci­sion mak­ing where fac­tors such as CSO’s must be taken into ac­count. Pol­i­tics (this one I can’t stand!) – I have been told by var­i­ous peo­ple in pol­i­tics that you can’t make pos­i­tive change un­less you’re the one in power. There­fore, pol­i­tics is about keep­ing hold of the power. My thought is that pol­i­tics is about mak­ing good de­ci­sions in the in­ter­est of the next gen­er­a­tion, how­ever I have been told by many that this is naïve think­ing. I am never one to back down from a bat­tle so I guess this naïve Mayor has an­other bat­tle on her hands in or­der to do good work for the next gen­er­a­tion. Fear (of mak­ing hard de­ci­sions) – it is hu­man to want to be liked, but some­times hard de­ci­sions need to be made. Many a time a de­ci­sion takes so long, as no one wants to be the bad guy (or girl for that mat­ter). I have come to learn the de­ci­sions Coun­cilors make in the com­mu­nity in­ter­est are un­like those made in busi­ness. Although there is much room for gov­ern­ment to think and act more busi­nesslike, gov­ern­ments ex­ist for a very spe­cific pur­pose, which is to make de­ci­sions in the pub­lic in­ter­est. Busi­ness and gov­ern­ment are not op­po­sites, but they are very dif­fer­ent. The mind­set, the leg­is­la­tion, the obli­ga­tion, the un­der­stand­ing and the speed. Talk soon, Rachel

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