1:21 PMWhat's on our councils' mind?
Each year Manningham council has the opportunity to present what it believes are important issues and national objectives to two organisations: the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
These organisations then select the issues and objectives they think important and promote these to the state and federal governments.
Full details of the issues and objectives our Council put forward are given in the minutes of the special meeting of council on 8 April 2014 from page 841 to 850.
Let's look at what our Council thinks is important and needs to be done. The following three motions were put to the M.A.V.
"That the MAV call on the State Government to provide additional resources to Councils to support a case management approach to residents affected by significant natural events.
With many agencies contributing to the support and rebuild, the post immediate time can be extremely traumatic for the victims. Additional resources are required to support residents in recovery through a case management approach to co-ordinate and navigate access to the entitlements and the less immediate services."
What we have here is a proposal for more government bureaucracy to assist people navigate their way through existing government bureaucracy.
What makes this even more puzzling is that each state and federal government agency has their own customer service and help lines. They already have help services and people to assist those effected by natural disasters get access to services they offer, and often the services provided by other government agencies. And there are many other resources available for people to find out about assistance the government can offer.
So is our council saying that local government will be quicker on the scene and better trained and resourced to help victims of natural disasters than people employed by existing state and federal agencies, whose job is to do the same thing?
First, there is some wishful thinking going on here.
If there is a natural disaster in Manningham, or for that matter in any local government area, what do you think will be the first priority for council workers? Will they be in their offices at their desks manning the phones ready to help you while their own houses are threatened by fire or flood?
I think it is a pretty safe bet that the phones will be left unanswered or at best, there will be one or two people left to answer the incoming phone calls.
It would be reasonable to think that the majority of council workers will be off attending to their own problems at home.
If you were to get through to someone at the council, it will be 'sorry we are experiencing high call rates. We will get to it as soon as we can.' or more likely you will be left waiting at the recorded message: 'all our phone operators are busy at this time. Your call is important to us and we will be answered by the first available operator'.
Why place another layer of bureaucracy upon existing bureaucracy? Why can't the existing government agencies get their acts together and provide quicker and more 'case managed' assistance to people who are effected by natural disasters? They are already well staffed, well funded, have the infrastructure and equipment. Why can't these existing agencies assist victims of natural disasters access services and assistance available to them? Why can't we get our existing investments in this area to work for us properly?
Why are government agencies dysfunctional and/or slow in identifying people in need of help and getting that help to them promptly, as Manningham council suggests?
There is a good answer why government agencies cannot function efficiently and effectively and be responsive to people in times of emergency. In my opinion the answer is rather straightforward. Just like at the local government level, proper management is also largely A.W.O.L. in these federal and state government agencies.
Have you ever worked in one of these large government agencies? Managers generally avoid risk, avoid change, avoid initiating improvements and often try to stay out of the day to day running of their departments. Staff are largely left to work by themselves and management is very reluctant to take the initiative to reorganize, improve or change things.
The reason is, that if they step out to change, improve or reorganize something, their plans may not succeed and they will be left bearing the responsibility for it not working. So the safest course of action is to keep your head down, get involved in nothing, take responsibility for nothing. And that is what they usually do.
One of my friends was working as a contractor in a large government agency and was tasked with bringing about changes to office systems. (Note how they got a contractor to do this and not an existing manager.) Not one of the office managers wanted anything to do with him. They would attend meetings but say little and commit to nothing. He was left entirely on his own to get the job done. When he finally completed the job, all he got from the managers was an approving smile. It appears that their own office politics is just to much for many of these managers to deal with.
Poor management and/or A.W.O.L. managers is endemic both in federal, and state government. And in my opinion, this is the main reason why government agencies cannot improve what they do or work efficiently and effectively.
Our council is no different. It currently is, and will continue to be, plagued by these same problems.
If a natural disaster does come, I think the wisest course of action is for you to rely on yourself, your family, your neighbours and emergency services. Government help is always late, often misalocated and more often than not, serious questions are raised after the event often concerning who they assisted and who they did not. Our council is plagued by the same bad management and self-interest and will be little different.
Lets take a look at a second thing on our council's mind:
"That the MAV call on the State Government to provide additional stimulus funding to registered housing services to work in partnerships with Councils to support vulnerable residents, particularly those with disability.
Additional resources are required to create and develop affordable housing across the regions in response to a critical shortfall in social and affordable housing for the most vulnerable in our society. In addition, increased funding is required to establish appropriate and accessible housing for people with a disability to support and foster independent living."
This sounds reasonable. But as with all government documents you need to read it carefully.
I think the first impression most people would have after reading this is that our council intends to help vulnerable disabled people.
But that is not what this proposal is actually saying. The council words their proposals very carefully. They are saying that they intend to help people they regard as vulnerable and that those with disabilities are just part of, or an example of, or one particular group of those who are considered to be vulnerable.
So the important question really is, just who else does our council regard as vulnerable in our community? We are simply not told.
If our council were reasonable and sensible there would not be a problem. We could leave it to them to formulate some guidelines to identify those they wish to help and we could leave them to assist those people.
But there is a problem. Our council is not always sensible. Nor do they manage processes well. They have already made a bit of a mess allocating people to existing low cost housing they manage. People have been assigned to existing low cost housing who are by no means 'vulnerable' and are quite self sufficient.
Also our council is heavily influenced by ideology. For instance, it is strongly influenced by environmentalist ideology.
Also it is heavily influenced by people of a left-wing ideology. This can be seen from the left-wing extremists they consistently employ as consultants to assist them when forming policy. The fanatical environmentalists and leftists our council appointed to the Doncaster Rail Advocacy Committee is a good example. As are the leftist and feminist extremists our council employed to ensure the council was 'close to the community' as they prepared the "Manningham Prevention of Violence Against Women Strategy and Action Plan 2013/2017" and other policy documents.
So when our council speaks of 'vulnerable' people, it is highly likely that they will think along the lines of the major left-wing political parties and would identify people as 'vulnerable' that sensible, ordinary people may not.
Let me give you an example of their bizarre way of thinking. Those of a left-wing persuasion often see ordinary Australians (particularly Australians who do not vote the same was as they do) as being 'racist'. So it stands to reason, (to them anyway), that migrant groups (who might not yet have made their mind up as to which way they will vote) are seen as 'vulnerable' and worthy of all types of government assistance at public expense.
And how do you think this largesse would effect the migrant group's impression of that left-wing political party?
So we find that support for the 'vulnerable' becomes synonymous with shepherding recent migrant groups into the voter base of the major left wing political parties. For example, one major left-wing political party many years back pursued the vote of the particular ethnic community of which I am a member.
And off course, all this is done with public money and done in the name of a much greater good.
Manningham council has shown itself to be far too close left-wing extremists to be trusted to identify and provide assistance to any group of people using the public's money. If you look through the above proposal you will find that they have given themselves a large amount of room to maneuver and a very broad scope to identify people as 'vulnerable' who would then be entitled to government largesse. If this motion were adopted, leftists within Manningham Council would see it as a dream come true.
The vulnerable people who are to be assisted by such a program need to be carefully defined. If the state government were to adopt this suggestion, let us hope that they have the good sense to carefully and tightly control the process and that they themselves do not succumb to decisions driven by any deceptive ideology.
Their final motion to the M.A.V. is:
"That the MAV call on the Victorian Government and all major political parties to provide accelerated funding for metropolitan public transport, in particular rail construction, to improve the Victorian transport network and to improve safety and reduce congestion across Victoria.
Ongoing investment in public transport infrastructure is essential to maintain a prosperous economy, reduced urban congestion and promote sustainable transport options across Australia. As the population and car dependency steadily increases, both state and federal governments must commit to funding public transport improvements including metropolitan rail construction and grade separation, upgrading existing infrastructure networks and significant investment in bus services and infrastructure."
This is really a request to the state government to proceed with the Doncaster Rail Project which I have spoken about in detail elsewhere on this site.
Manningham Council also is able to suggest 'National Objectives' to the Local Government Association.
Our council not only puts motions to the M.A.V. Manningham council can also suggest 'national objectives' to the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
Manningham council put forward these two suggestions as national objectives.
National Objective 1
That this National General Assembly calls on the Australian Government, in any review of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to consider allocating an annual set percentage of GST to a Local Government Infrastructure Fund.
The demand on the local government sector for new infrastructure and for the maintenance and upgrade of existing infrastructure is outstripping the financial capacity of local government to fund these projects. Traditional sources of revenue are insufficient to meet these increasing demands. Unless a new and sustainable source of funding is developed, local communities will not be provided with adequate infrastructure and existing infrastructure will deteriorate.
Manningham Council plunders ratepayers with exorbitant 5% to 8% annual rate increases and still they want more money!
The costs of our Council's capital projects spiral out of control, well in excess of the CPI increase and most other cost indices. Their increases in costs are well in excess of the annual increase in private sector salaries and well in excess of the government figures for the increase in the cost of maintaining and building roads, bridges etc as seen in the "BITRE Road Construction and Maintenance Price Index" (RCMPI). The BITRE index was 2.4 per cent for 2010–11 to 2011–12 and it looks like a similar increase for 2012-13.
Manningham council, in my opinion, has consistently shown a disdain and contempt for cost control.
Elsewhere on this site I have given examples of how costs for capital projects spiral out of control. For example, Manningham council allows vendors to inflate costs and prices to ridiculous levels and then does little or nothing about it.
If you look at some of the situations our council get themselves into, for example $250,000 for an public outdoor toilet, you see how bad they have allowed the situation to become. A private individual could build quite a house for that amount of money. All our council can do is erect a rather straightforward structure with plumbing and electricity.
And when it comes to managing their own staff, the situation has been allowed to get similarly out of hand. Manningham Council allows their own staff to quite literally sleep on the job or loll about in the office doing almost nothing and then actually protecting and defending their staff who loaf while on the job. I have given examples of the very poor management of council staff elsewhere on this site.
Our council is entrenched in waste, self-interest and indifference. Now they actually think they need and deserve to be given more money - much more money.
Any state or federal government minister with any sense would tell them to get their house in order and to properly manage the resources they do have.
The second national objective Manningham Council put forward is this:
National Objective 2
That the National General Assembly call on to the Australian Government and all major political parties to provide accelerated funding for metropolitan rail construction to improve the Australian transport network and to improve safety and reduce congestion across Australia.
Ongoing investment in public transport infrastructure is essential to maintain a prosperous economy, reduce urban congestion and promote sustainable transport options across Australia. As the population and car dependency steadily increases, both state and federal governments must commit to funding public transport improvements including metropolitan rail construction, upgrading existing infrastructure networks and significant investment in bus services and infrastructure.
Again, this is an appeal to the Federal Government to support the Doncaster Rail line but is framed in national and environmental terms.
The problem Manningham Council faces regarding the Doncaster Rail is not really environmental or prosperity. It faces instead the problem of traffic congestion. Manningham council has commissioned studies into the future growth of road traffic in Manningham and have been alarmed at the results.
Road traffic is forecast to increase dramatically in Manningham as the population increases under existing state government policy. Manningham council hope that the Doncaster Rail line will get people out of their cars and onto the train and thereby alleviate traffic congestion problems.
Manningham council has conducted research to find out how the planned increase in population is going to effect road congestion. They found that 'at full build out' Doncaster Road during the afternoon peak rush is going to be similar to inner city levels of traffic congestion. That is, it will be like Burke Street in the city or Alexandra Parade. Manningham Council hopes that the Doncaster Rail will alleviate much of this future congestion.
However the State Government's Doncaster Rail Phase 1 Report clearly shows that all the Doncaster Rail will do is move existing tram and bus users onto the train. There will be no further 'mode shift', as the document calls it. That is, people are not going to leave their cars at home to use the train. Possibly because the train does not take them where they want to go.
The policy of Manningham Council to get the Doncaster Rail line to go ahead is entirely misguided. They are hoping the Doncaster Rail line will get them out of the mess they have allowed themselves to get into. But it will not.
Our council needs to think harder about how they are going to solve the road congestion problem. And probably they need to work with the state government and not continue to fund and support the misguided activists who try to pressure the state government to fund the Doncaster Rail.
Just what kind of immature nonsense is this?
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