Wastage ‘beyond a joke’

TIME FOR ACTION: Water advocates Helen Dalton and Debbie Buller discuss the need for efficiency in their latest column.
TIME FOR ACTION: Water advocates Helen Dalton and Debbie Buller discuss the need for efficiency in their latest column.

We often joke about government departments wasting time and money.

It’s good to maintain a sense of humour but the wastage we see every day is getting beyond a joke.

We expect to see infrastructure spending and services that produce positive outcomes in a cost effective way.

Local, state and federal departments often get in the way of efficiencies.  With the duplication of many departments we find the public purse is depleted, projects go over budget and in the end we, the taxpayers, pay more.

Infrastructure needs in Australia are lagging behind where communities and businesses have to deal with an inordinate amount of red tape. We almost grind to a halt under massive regulatory burdens.

The proposed new Carrathool Bridge received approval and grant money in 2015 after 34 different agencies and departments were consulted. It is not only challenging in rural regional areas.  At a recent powerpoint presentation where the Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack attended, a prospective Parramatta coffee shop owner had to comply with 80 separate approvals for the business to go ahead.

Often farmers and other business owners watch helplessly as developments take up enormous amounts of manpower and machinery when they know they could have completed those tasks far more efficiently. In our region, most landholders can build serviceable internal roads and lay irrigation infrastructure on time and on budget.

We are often questioned by politicians of all flavours about how policies can be ‘fixed’ and whether the approach needs to be top down or bottom up. We’re starting to realise those are the wrong questions.

Perhaps the issue is that the entrenched bureaucrats and compliance people need to get out of their offices and actually assist with projects and gain some practical understanding of the difficulties encountered by needless compliance and regulation. They could also learn to work in a resourceful way.

Where is the due diligence when public money is involved?Who is accountable when budgets blow out and stated goals are not achieved?

In essence they are involved in customer service yet they’re often the laughing stock of customer service industries that have to operate in the rough and tumble of the real world.

 While we wait, wonder and scoff at governments departments that continue to cover their backs communities are missing opportunities. The lack of trust and general frustration with governments and red tape is actually impeding our ability to thrive and prosper.