Some time ago a Quadrant reader invested in the construction of a new apartment complex. Given all we hear about the housing shortage, one might assume officialdom would encourage entrepreneurs such as he. Alas, no. He writes of his experience learning what is behind the local-government looking glass:
1. It took 8-months for the council to approve a fully-compliant complex, before we could even start.
2. The rules have been changed several times after the approval, requiring expensive rework.
3. We must be 'NBN capable' to receive sign-off for occupancy. The nearest NBN cable is over 1km away. In a stroke of bureaucratic genius (and I really do admire it!) after 16-months and three orders by the Telecom Ombudsman, NBN turned up, dug a one-metre hole and put an NBN cover over it, then signed off that we were 'NBN capable'.
The nearest NBN cable remains over 1km away, but honestly I do really, really appreciate what they have done for me as it saved a call to Julia Gillard at 'Beyond Blue'
4. The council (after the event) decided that one of the sub-division boundaries should be moved 87cms. Why not 86cm or 88cm I hear you ask? But ours is not to reason why. That cost $1,600 in survey fees for no known purpose.
5. The first property was sold in early June for $1.8M, but my blood pressure has not yet returned to normal, as we are awaiting a council 'Certificate of Occupancy' before we settle and receive the balance. Here are some delays -- and bear in mind, the buyer can repudiate the sale if the CoE is not received by mid-September:
(a.) The council has demanded that we provide 'professional' photographs of the landscaping, as only native plants are allowed. They want to make sure we do not sneak in a dastardly 'rose bush by any other name' at a later date.
I recommended we plant native poisonous oleander and poisonous berry plants, but the builder overruled me.
(b.) They are querying how we connected to the sewer without opening the road. The builder tunnelled. Now, in retrospect, we find we:
(i.) did not seek approval to open the road
(ii.) did not have a 'tunnelling' license or approval for the three-metre tunnel, which that did not require disrupting traffic
(iii.) the inspector is considering his options as he did not see the connection (which he is not required to do.)
This is not the Australia I grew up in. It is an Oz I no longer know, nor want to recognise.
For more on the antics of local councils, follow the link below.
The blogger behind ABC News Watch enjoys a good Welcome to Country as much the next person but wonders if some cultural mutuality might be in order. The suggestion is that, after Indigenous elders and ancestors have been thanked, a further manifestation of gratitude would be very nice and inclusive:
I acknowledge and pay respect to the actions, sacrifice, wisdom, traditions and curiosity of our ancestors. Their collective efforts over centuries helped evolve our western civilisation, giving birth to the liberal society that makes this meeting possible.
Mind you, were that to become a regular feature of public gatherings, various public institutions' protocols would need to be further expanded. In the case of the University of Wollongong that would likely see its Guidelines and Protocols for Welcome to Country, Acknowledgement of People and Country and Aboriginal Cultural Performances expanded to somewhere near the length of War and Peace.
The current and voluminous guide can be read in full via the link below. And remember, any number of university bureaucrats laboured long and hard on the document, so show some respect to the authors and their ancestors too.