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June 26th 2018 print

Christopher Akehurst

Town Hall Totalitarians

My local council is infested with bullying eco-lefties and instinctive regulators of others' lives, actions and opinions. As we all pay to have our rubbish collected, I yearn for the day when these aldermanic scolds look in the mirror and recognise it is their civic duty to consign themselves to the tip

jackbootsIII was watching a somewhat improbable telefilm about Nazis occupying the United States, and it led to one of those “Could it have happened here?” discussions. The consensus, as always in debates of this kind, was no, it couldn’t, because we’re somehow different, with our Aussie belief in mateship and the fair go, so there wouldn’t be enough potential collaborators to make the occupation work. Don’t you believe it, I suggested. Australia is teeming with would-be totalitarians, all of whom would collaborate like mad if they were given a statutory authority to push around their fellow citizens. In fact they’re at it already. And with nationalism now eclipsed by globalism in the minds of many, I wouldn’t count on patriotism outweighing a thirst for power, whichever boss might be delegating it.

The Human Rights Commission and the various “anti-discrimination” and “equality” tax sponges are too obvious an example of this to dwell on. But you’ll find plenty of less-publicised instances right in your own backyard. I meant that metaphorically, but backyards are a good place to start, because once upon a time we all had home incinerators out the back, which were an efficient (and for pyromaniacs entertaining) way of getting rid of garden and household rubbish. “Anti-pollution” fanatics managed to get them banned, so now the rubbish spills malodorously out of wheelie bins in the street, uncollected because the bins are over-full or “incorrectly” placed or violate some other rubric thought up by the recycling monomaniacs who, like codling moth, have wormed their way into what they like to call our “governance”, not only in urban districts but in tiny hamlets out on the sweeping plains of our sunburnt country.

This essay appears in the June edition of Quadrant.
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One of their pastimes is to sift through our garbage looking for “unacceptable” items, as eagerly as Mr Boffin looked for jewellery and coins in the dust mounds of north London in Our Mutual Friend. When they find something they send an officious warning that unless we conform to their byzantine taxonomy of “waste management” we’ll be denied the bin collection we pay for. I know someone who was threatened in this way for putting a chocolate wrapper in the “wrong” bin.

Rubbish removal is a local government matter, and the aspiring totalitarian—who, as in the three most tyrannical regimes of the last century is naturally of the Left—will find his local Town Hall a promising place to start a career. The municipal administration where I live is full of such people, who communicate their instructions to ratepayers principally by means of a bossy little publication called Divercity (ha ha, get it?), paid for of course by the ratepayers themselves.

As we have come to realise, diversity, of speech and thought anyway, is the last thing those who employ this weasel term wish to know about. Certainly, diversity is notably absent from the pages of Divercity, which, though ostensibly intended for all ratepayers, of various political views and none, is steeped in implied leftism. Indeed it issues forth from leftist loins: its production is “outsourced” to a “community education” publisher—there’s a chilling concept—which boasts on its website of having had the Victorian Teachers’ Union among its “clients” and of “working for the ACTU” and the Victorian government on “targeted education programs”. We get the picture. (Another of this publisher’s taxpayer-funded customers was Quit Victoria, a money-down-the-drainer of Guinness Book of Records stature to judge by the number of younger people you see smoking outside clubs and pubs, with blithe disregard of the Francis Baconesque depictions of nicotine-wrecked vital organs on the packet.)

Anyway, Divercity is full of the imperatives dear to the heart of bullying eco-lefties. “No time to waste, let’s take sustainability to the next level,” barks the editorial like a loudspeaker in a prison camp. “Cut your rubbish in half,” another heading orders—this from the type of people who prohibited home incinerators, the quickest and most efficient rubbish reducers of all.

The authentic Achtung! note is not missing: “Dumping rubbish is ILLEGAL!” Ratepayers are encouraged, in true totalitarian style, to spy on their neighbours: “If you see dumped rubbish, report it and help Council identify illegal dumpers.” Divercity doesn’t actually ask children to denounce their parents but such information would doubtless be welcome. In my street dumped rubbish—mattresses seem to be a specialty—is a permanent part of what urban planners term the street furniture, yet “Council”, for all its exhortations (“Let’s work together to get dumped rubbish off our streets”) rarely lifts a finger to collect it. That’s left to scavengers.

Yet another injunction is “Don’t Make History a Mystery”, the theme, Divercity tells us, of this year’s “writing competition” sponsored by the municipality’s “Citizens for Reconciliation”. I don’t know what their idea of a mystery is, but I suspect that an essay pointing out the perfectly unmysterious fact that there would have been no municipality or Divercity or citizens to be concerned about reconciliation if whitey hadn’t turned up to establish it all for everyone’s benefit would not be the winning entry.

As in a dictatorship, the citizens—not the reconciliatory ones, they’re safely on-message, but the ordinary ones who just pay the rates—are treated as though they are a great lumpenproletariat who need to be badgered and hectored into doing the correct thing as defined by the self-satisfied elite of the enlightened. The correct thing seems always to be taken from the Greens’ manual of world improvement, even where the Greens are not officially in charge. Greens are obsessed with “global warming” so in Australia’s municipal offices “climate change” is a universal enemy: no room for untotalitarian differences of opinion there. Everything “indigenous” or allegedly so is “celebrated”. “Traffic management” largely consists of building roundabouts and rockeries and other obstacles to fulfil the Green dream of making streets impassable to any but a pedestrian or cyclist. “Sustainable-construction” besotted Town Hall planning departments are laws unto themselves. In one I know of, ring to inquire of the progress of your application and you go straight to the bottom of the pile.

Gays and the rest of the sexual “identities” that multiply around us daily as by mitosis are venerated civically like the heroes of Greek mythology: in my municipality vast sums are being spent on a “Pride Centre” to appease them. The weird code of leftist morality is everywhere implicit. You can abort away till the cows come home—the fewer unwanted or eugenically unacceptable infants born the better—but pick a few sprigs from a “protected” wattle or flowering gum and you’re an enemy of the people.

Australia is ludicrously over-governed and local councils should be pared down, with rates slashed to cover the traditional essential services only. Bureaucracies at state and national levels are scandalously swollen too. The bloating leads to the constant search for new fields of endeavour in which administrators can throw their weight around; add to this a chippy leftist monoculture in the public service and you have the essential conditions for small-scale totalitarianism. Limited government is the only answer and if voters won’t insist on it we’re bound to get it anyway sooner or later when a recession turns up and there just isn’t enough tax revenue to keep the present extravaganza going.

Small bureaucracies with a good work ethic are not a congenial habitat for the totalitarian-minded, who like giving the orders, not carrying them out. If they can’t hack it once the downsizing starts they’ll just have to stay at home and crouch over Twitter and fume—and hope that some day a Greens dictatorship will arise with which they can collaborate to their misanthropic hearts’ content.

Christopher Akehurst lives in Melbourne.

 

Comments [4]

  1. Lo says:

    I think I read that our local council has hired a public relations firm to help us think better of them. It won’t work.

  2. LBLoveday says:

    My experience is from 25 years ago, and I assume it’s even worse now.

    I lived in what I’d not even class a hamlet – 6 km to the nearest store, 12 km to the nearest pub, on 2.5 acres zoned “Rural Living”.

    The Council imposed conditions:

    that a shed I wanted to erect be of colorbond construction, either green or brown,
    that I plant trees on the boundary of the property to shield the development (house) from view from the street or neighbouring properties,
    that I specifically plant trees between the shed and the boundary of the property,
    that I plant trees around the development (house) so as to shade the development and moderate temperatures within the development.

    I attended the Council meeting where they imposed the conditions, and they rejected an application from a market gardener in the area to allow aerial crop-dusting, with one Councillor shouting (I lie not) about when he was in Vietnam and saw the effects of Agent Orange. Idiots – he won his appeal in the Environment, Resources and Development Court, but at the cost of employing a lawyer.

    I also appealed to the ERD Court, self represented, and the Council sent along the Council Engineer to the hearing in front of a single Judge. My first question to the hapless Engineer was “Are you seriously telling His Honour that it is reasonable to order me to plant trees in a one metre gap between a 3 metre high shed with a concrete floor and an 1.8 metre solid fence?” Game over.

    I had drawn a diagram showing that to reasonably shade the house other than before 7:30am or after 4:30pm the trees would have to be much closer to the house than recommended by the Council Engineer (and every sensible person).

    I presented a recommendation from the police that in order to mitigate the likelihood of home invasions, houses be viewable from the street, and one from the CFS that to mitigate the likelihood of houses being burned down to not have trees near a house, and especially not close enough to drop leaves in the gutters.

    I pointed out that the properties either side of mine, and the 3 abutting it at the back all had galvanised iron sheds, as did the properties of at least 6 of the 10 councillors (I stopped short of hiring a chopper to check more thoroughly on the other 4 and Google Maps was not around then).

    Speaking to the Engineer afterwards, he told me how they were going to make another property owner repaint his shed because they did not like the colour (yellow, which I though looked great). What arrogance – how can anyone rationally claim a yellow shed impinges on their life, and how dare they dictate what colours are allowed?

  3. Rob Brighton says:

    Recently our local council sent us a list of things asking what we wanted them to be involved in. Sensibly they included waste disposal, running local tip, repairing local roads….you get the drift.
    Regrettably, not all items listed were of the same calibre. They included the local council involve itself with child protection, domestic violence, education of residents on global warming, expansion of depression help services etc
    While some of these things are worthy issues they are dealt with on a National and State basis, doubling up is pointless tripling down more so.
    In the end, to provide those services gleefully ticked by the rampantly stupid the council had to go to the state government to get increases above normal levels, which in turn was approved, the upshot being I now have 8% council rate rises listed for the next 5 bloody years.

  4. whitelaughter says:

    Well, we know that the Nazis couldn’t have taken power in OZ in the past, because the unemployment rate during the great depressions was 2nd only to Germany – and even then they couldn’t manage it.

    You realise that your local stazi will get letters of their own if the wrong rubbish ends up in their bins? You know the names of your local council members, their addresses will by on the electoral roll which can be perused at the electoral office. Bin night is public information. Would be a damn shame if someone walking by put the wrong rubbish in one of their bins, wouldn’t it?

    In happier news, the local council responsible for Cowra seems a voice for sanity. My father wanted his ashes scattered in the river there, as that’s where he grew up: the only delay was in them working out who would be responsible for telling me “yes” (turned out was the responsibility of the local cemetery), that it would be approved was never in doubt. When I went there to do so I visited some friends who live there: they told me about when they rang to say they wanted to chop down a dead tree on their property – and were promptly advised on where they could buy a good chain saw.
    So there are still patches of sanity in the country.