Slings and Arrows: The Whiffy Buck Passes from State Government to Councils

What is an odour? The Environment Protection Authority has been the butt of many complaints over the years for its seeming inability to act over environmental complaints. Now Jay’s government has reduced pressure on its grossly overworked bureaucrats by quietly passing the buck for managing ‘nuisance’ complaints to councils. Minister Ian Hunter recently got out the spin gun and described it as a great new opportunity. They can have it!

A   W H I F F Y   B U C K   P A S S

Responsibilities cover litter control, cars abandoned in streets, and noise and smoke complaints. As the bill sat in parliament, councils fumed because many crucial bits were lacking, especially about smells (‘odours’). “The interpretation of [whether] an odour is causing a local nuisance is open to interpretation as there is no true measure,” a city report whinged. “The use of terminology such as ‘unreasonably’ and ‘likely’ cannot be tested…” Parliamentary counsel responded that it would constitute: “Anything declared by regulation to constitute a local nuisance, but does not include anything declared by regulation not to constitute a local nuisance.” Cunning! But for a long time there were no regulations to examine. Adelaide City Council responded: “As regulations have not been provided … it is recommended that all approved events and activities by council are not considered a local nuisance.” More cunning. But would this be helpful if your neighbour smoked cigars near the external air-conditioning inlet, spread fresh pig poo on the new vegetable plot, or left last week’s unwrapped prawns in a garbage bin near your window? Wars have commenced on lesser triggers. A generation of Adelaide lawyers look forward to years of pre-paid fine dining as interpretations of the new legislation are pondered and tested.

V O T E   F O R   U S

Always fascinating to observe results after the Local Government Association, (representing 61 SA councils) holds its annual general meeting. There, free of the deep confidential records drift that usually clogs the doors, windows and filing cabinets of every SA council, members speak their minds. Three items stood out. Campbelltown (seconded West Torrens) demanded that bike riders over 16 get identification cycle tags. City of Adelaide (seconded Port Adelaide Enfield) thumped the table and demanded compulsory voting in council polls. Both motions failed. But one bid did get up (Marion, seconded Victor Harbor) to dump councils’ responsibility to collect the hated NRM levy, which keeps rising and makes householders’ blood boil every time they pay the government tax. From this month it’ll spike an average $40 for each metro residential rates bill – sufficient to pay for a Friday night schnitzel and a few drinks with friends. This vote succeeded, but everyone in the room knew that hell would freeze over before Jay’s boys would ever accede and pin ownership of, and the Premier’s face to, that cursed invoice. Why don’t they just revolt and stop sending them out? Jay’s gambling they won’t. SA – the gambling state.

C A R P E T   R A S H

Unless you’re one of those home décor designer types, for most people carpet is not more than a colourful, functional floor covering. But it’s different at City Council. Recent chats over a costly plan to update the Queen Adelaide Room examined ‘redecoration outcomes’. Council is in league with pommy carpet weaver Brintons, and the new rug is to be based on a 1916 design based on a historic Brinton’s pattern. Things are going swimmingly. From the notes: “The design results in the right balance between the feminine and the robust…” Were they talking about a ballerina or a sumo wrestler? Ash can’t remember such descriptions when he last sought rug advice, but it’s clear that descriptors like tight pile, hard wearing and ‘easily vacuumed’ just don’t cut it. He won’t even mention shag. Ashley Whitefly is Executive Director of the Adelaide Whitefly Institute of Diplomatic Studies

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