Australian DIARY


ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +


I recently obtained this response to my complaint to Premier Baird about council amalgamation.

Dear Mr Morris

Thank you for your recent email and for taking the time to write about the important matter of local government reform. I am replying on behalf of the Premier and I have noted your comments. 

The Government has been consulting councils and the community on local government reform for four years.

(First I have heard about four years of consulting. There wasn't a peep about it at the last election around 6 months ago.  In fact, I seem to recall some Liberal person declaring that a council merger would NEVER happen except after an election in which the issue was promulgated. )

A recent report by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) on the state of councils across NSW has confirmed that the system of local government is not working as well as it should be and that communities would significantly benefit from change. 

Both major parties want bigger councils so their own get elected rather than independents. IPART is appointed by Premier Baird. Nuff said.

The NSW Government will now give councils a 30 day consultation opportunity to inform the Government’s position on local government reform and response to IPART’s findings. The Government is establishing a Stronger Communities Fund to provide participating councils with a head start on community infrastructure projects such as sporting fields, libraries and parks and is providing funding to meet the costs of merging. This funding will be available to those mergers agreed to by councils and the NSW Government. 

30 days is not enough time to properly mobilize opposition. Notice the bribe money offered to give a “head start” to compliant councils?

Councils have been asked to consider IPART’s findings for their particular council and to participate in discussions with neighbouring councils and the NSW Government. This will provide councils and communities the opportunity to benefit from the funding being provided by Government and the significant savings identified by IPART. 

Significant Savings??”

Strong and vibrant communities in our cities and regions require strong, local councils that can deliver the services and infrastructure that communities deserve now and in the future. No decision has been made about local government reform but the Government can make the following guarantees to give the community extra confidence that reforms will deliver tangible benefits and stronger councils: 

Mergers will reduce waste and red tape and all the savings will go to better services, more infrastructure or lower rates. Local representation will be maintained.

That guarantee is empty. Reduce waste and red tape? Highly unlikely. Small councils have greater informality hence less waste and less red tape.

Thank you for writing on this most important issue.

Yours sincerely

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier

I wrote the following response.

Dear Catherine

You wrote that the premier relies on findings by IPART.

According to Wikipedia IPART is a tribunal and

"The Tribunal comprises three permanent members: a Part-Time Chairman and 2 Part-Time Tribunal Members. Tribunal members are appointed by the Premier. The Premier can also appoint any number of additional temporary members. As of March 2015, the permanent Tribunal members are:

On returning to Australia in 1986, Boxall joined the Department of the Treasury in the Australian Public Service.  He took leave from work in the public sector to work as Chief of staff to Peter Costello. Peter Boxall went on to appointments by the Abbott government. I think it would not be unfair to deduce that Mr. Boxall was at the very least sympathetic to Liberal Party ambitions.

You finished: "Mergers will reduce waste and red tape and all the savings will go to better services, more infrastructure or lower rates. Local representation will be maintained." Well, as you said in your letter, quite a lot of that infrastructure is coming from state funds, apparently as a reward to those councils that merge quietly. Myself, I would have thought that mergers would increase waste (via higher wages to executives of larger councils?) and produce greater red tape (an inevitable byproduct of government bureaucracy) and produce a more depersonalized service.  I also would have thought that greater losses would have resulted from this unwanted infrastructure because of decreased local involvement and as an inevitable consequence put upward pressure on rates.

And I really do not see how local representation would not be diluted.

Catherine, I ask that you request Premier Baird stop this forced amalgamation of Councils and instead hold a plebiscite on the issue.

However the response mailed to the return address produced the following response:

Your message is important to the Premier.

You can send questions, comments, concerns or well-wishes simply by filling out the email contact form.

Please click on the following link to re-submit your message to the Premier's email contact form

Is this what Premier Baird means by “less red tape” or is it what he means by “less waste”.  Either way, I do not like filling so many forms.

So I guess he won't hear my response. Well at least not unless he reads my diary.







In Egypt ISIS has killed over 230 Russians with a 1Kg bomb in an aeroplane.

In Paris about 150 were killed by ISIS terrorists wielding guns and using hand grenades.  The Police are reported to have taken 20 minutes to arrive at one of the ground zero spots from a police station about 100 meters away.

The general response of Obama and the leftie who is the French President is "We will catch the b******s.  And to increase bombing of innocent Syrian mothers and children.

The Donald Trump's response was (words to the effect) "They chose France to shoot up innocent civilians because the French have among the most restrictive gun control laws in the EU".

To me, The Donald has it right.  He doesn't say I should carry a concealed weapon.  Just the implication that the 5% of law abiding citizens who have the inclination may legally carry the wherewithal to protect their loved ones.  I would generally hope to benefit as a non-carry bystander.

Perhaps I should supply my background.  As a child I grew up on a farm.  Long arms (rifles, including a semi automatic) were used as a matter of course in the business of farming.  From the age of twelve I was permitted to use them.  When I had my own farm, I had rifles.  I might have used them every couple of months.  Otherwise they were locked away, secure from my daughters until they reached the age of twelve.  Then I taught them how to handle a gun safely.

I come from a military background.  A great Grandfather was in the Khyber Pass.  My Father and Uncle served with the RAAF in WWII.

If the threat level rose in Australia rose any further I would feel very vulnerable in the streets of Sydney.  Knowing that there were armed, law abiding citizens around me would alleviate my fears.  If the Police in Paris took 20 minutes to travel 100 meters, I would hope (but not with total confidence) that our police could travel faster.

Of course it is all very well for those important people among us to keep guns away from "we the people".  Important people live in secure apartments with guards, and have security people checking the public that has access to them at work.  The French President was at the sporting event that was attacked.  His security team spotted the suicide bomber and stopped the attack.  Those children who attended a rock concert were not so lucky.

I do not expect that important people will allow relaxation of gun control in Australia.  They will frighten the public with stories about children who got access to guns or criminals or crazed ice addicts running wild.  Those children of criminal parents are unfortunate, but having a lawbreaking parent (it is illegal to not lock guns away) is not a good start in life for a child.  As for criminals, they seem to have lots of access to handguns even with all the gun controls in place.  Hardly a week goes by in which an incident does not happen.  Of course our media only report the particularly noteworthy events, like mothers and babies being shot as innocent bystanders.  Nobody bothers to report a handgun threat to obtain cash from a store.

All our laws do is keep handguns out of the hands of law abiding citizens.  If the government cannot keep Opium drugs and Amphetamines away from addicts, how can we expect it to keep guns out of the hands of criminals?