Rate Payer Funded Junkets are not just the Rage in Fremantle?

jet polution

Looks like it’s not just Fremantle councillors who refer to rate payer funded overseas trips as Junkets? A link to a letter from last week.

Quote from herald letter “When Melville councillor Susanne Taylor-Rees mentioned the word “junket” in reference to a similar state government trip to Japan, she was ordered to withdraw the word (despite her reliance on the Oxford dictionary’s definition it is a trip funded at public expense).” A BUNCH of councillors and staff from Melville and Cockburn councils are packing their bags for a 10-day tour of Asia and Europe to study waste-to-energy technology. Just don’t call the $6000 per person mystery trip a junket.”

Another letter this week on the same sort of issues?

Burns me up
ANOTHER incinerator junket trip (Herald, March 21, 2015)?
I am outraged to read that Melville and Cockburn ratepayers will be paying to send delegates around the world to look at more waste to energy incinerators.
The previous state government-organised junket trip was only last year and the premier went the year before that. How many is enough?
The Barnett government is bullying councils to support its expensive dirty waste-to-energy incinerator agenda against the best interests of the community, environment and our children’s health.
WA needs a sustainable zero waste strategy, not dirty energy technologies that emit more greenhouse gases than coal and gas, poison our air with dioxins, heavy metals and nanoparticles and destroy many more long-term jobs that come with composting and recycling.
Residual waste can be treated without incineration but the focus really should be on reducing our waste through better education and better recycling and composting infrastructure.
While some south metro communities face private bin audits, we still do not have public place recycling bins meaning this vast volume of public waste will be used to keep the toxic burners viable.
I wonder if delegates will get to meet affected host communities living close to incinerators. Or speak with the European Union which is moving to decommission incinerators in favour of safe, renewable energy technologies like solar and wind as it moves towards a sustainable circular economy? Our state government is selling our children’s future by pursuing this dirty energy industry, however local governments have the power to stop them. But will they?
Jane Bremmer

I don’t know if I agree with the Barnett government bullying councils our Mayor after his Junket to Japan to check out the incinerator seemed to be in favour of it, he certainly didn’t talk out against the incinerators at the rubbish forum I went to? Strangely it’s all quiet on the rubbish front lately, I still haven’t heard anything about our 3 bin trial Brad spoke about that evening?

On the recycling front Fremantle for a so called progressive council can’t even offer garbage separation bins in the CBD? It’s always the basics?

When I lived in Genève in the early 90’s they had a better rubbish separation program than Fremantle has 25yrs later.



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  1. Diana Ryan says:

    Look, I really do think the model of local governing needs to be reviewed, for the simple reason they are and will cost a lot of money – in the name of “local govts are being asked to provide much more for the community now than in the past” and how individually many of them still act.

    Just how far should this extend? Trying to be all things to all people, and hiring employees to do just that within one council, when the council over the way has the same thing?

    Councils shouldn’t just be known as “rates, rubbish and roads”, by any means, but these days they are trying to be urban designers, sustainability experts, energy experts. They are expected to support virtually everything community tries to get up and running, this leads to hiring $100,000 plus grants administrators, arts administrators, economic co-ordinators, in fact I’ve seen figures recently on the costs of “human resource” experts that stunned me – try $200,000 a year. Then there’s trying to induce affordable housing, retail, which inevitably means deals with developers.

    It goes on and on.

    Soon, and I think we are missing really obvious indicators here, councils may be expected to be the outlet for more community services than ever before. Ask yourselves why was Dept of Local Govt merged with Dept of Communities? Is everyone aware that this new arrangement may extend far beyond immunisation, child care and mum/baby clinics? The DG of the combined Depts of LG and Communities is in “high level” talks with WACOSS – which is the peak group for a far wider number and type of services, often to specifically targeted sectors in society.

    Sounds good? We won’t know until we know what they are planning, but I do know this – we cannot afford to continue to have 30 local govts separately manage all manner of things, from arts to community services to deals with developers – and especially if they are not going to do so in conjunction with each other. It’s one of the problems that we have in properly managing congestion and, finally, a proper level of utilisation of the extensive, expensive and heavily subsidised public transport we already have.

    Am I starting to sound like a local govt reformist? No, this is about we can keep up these constant expectations and separated up, individual service offerings. Councils will reply they do have operations in conjuction with each other, but its not that much.

    As an alternative way of looking at things – how respected is Colin Murphy, Auditor General for WA? His dept, hopefully soon to also audit councils, is practically a productivity commission now. They outed Healthways “ethical concerns”, summed up the roads authorities unexpectedly well, are looking at how connected and connective are our bike paths?

    It’s a highly efficient, highly flexible, deeply illuminating state dept – greatly respect, highly flexible, increasingly sophisticated.

    Why can’t councils operate a somewhat similar way and “pool” their expertise – no, I’m not talking Council 1 and Council 5, 9 13, 17 and 29’s councillors, mayors, CEOs and staff to more or less the same fact finding missions, ie liveable cities, waste disposals systems, and then they come back and “network” at a multitude of expensive local conferences/lunches with Local Govt Managers Assoc, WALGA, Local Planning Officers Assoc (?), Planning Industry Association, Committee for Perth, CEDA, it goes on and on and takes more staff away from their work stations and costs a lot of money to fund ultimately – including how councils try to be all things within one boundary.

    Graeme McKenzie spoke recently about how councils are funded, and quite a bit of that comes from grants and I think he said over 60% are “untied”. I studied local govts in WA at Curtin for six months and a lot of these untied grants are going towards maintaining staff for everything under the sun. And the salaries cam be astonishingly high.

    The reality is most councils would not survive as they are, if they were required to operate as enterprise. They’d have to cut back costs significantly.

    But look at what we are funding, still, to unnecessary degrees? I’ll use the City of Freo as an example.

    Was it necessary to send three councillors over east to a cycling conference, then a quick stopover at a wind farm? Plus staff, presumably?

    Was it necessary to co-fund Rachel Pemberton to go and study placemaking in New York? Rachel is very likely to have had a lot of access to this learning, and in fact Freo has brought out experts in this area several times. Was it looked in to if other councils (or FORM or Committee for Perth or Urban Design Institute or Universities) are already doing exactly the same thing first?

    I’m not sure if Freo is any more liveable today? Ironically, when Rachel came back, she produced a report for her ratepayers which focussed (mostly through somewhat vague pictures) on ways in which those with disabilities can sit under a tree and do…. What? How is this really placemaking? Can they afford hawker style food vans a lot of the time? How about expensive coffees? You can provide ramps I suppose, but the City of Fremantle continues to be unwilling to act like a properly sustainable community and develop employment quotas and programs to ensure, that with the NDIS coming, they can finally offer proper jobs to those in their own community who have disabilities but want to be independent – and, amazingly, afford hawker style foods and to go to small bars and cafes too.

    As for Brad Pettitt’s break neck “rare opportunity” race through 13 cities in 14 days tour of the Continent to look for five minutes at each location at places deemed “most liveable” – he’d hardly be feeling “liveable” as he rushed through this trip, and the work has already be coalesced in to a book, which amounts to the same thing – you won’t gain a “sense of” multiple areas in one city, on a 1 day trip through it before you fly out to another. You can use the phone to communicate and develop a much deeper, long term understanding of the politics, economics, civic hurdles, springboarding off the book, or, if you must, flying the author in – but perhaps in conjunction with the other councils who have now funded for a bunch of their staff to go on this trip too. Sounds a lot cheaper, and the actual guy, with a deeper level of every sense, would be brought in at a cost spread across the councils who sent their planning officers off to speed through Europe.

    That trip will be repeated, but with different “most liveable cities” next time. Or perhaps we can do a Committee for Perth and fly to Vancouver 10 times in 5 years. Really necessary? What’s the bet the actual people in Vancouver have a lot more to worry about than what CfP thinks, and probably fly out people to “most liveable [some place else but here]” all the time?

    But we don’t pool that info! Individual councils and many “advisory” private sector people and universities send off, often, individual parties, often, repeated jaunts, every couple of years, the councillors are only the visible part of what a council is sending off…… must be a ton of staff flying around too.

    I presume they all meet across councils at some point, yet another expensive local conference to attend, from Local Govt Managers Association, Local Govt Planners Assoc (?), some gig hosted by Committee for Perth, CEDA (which Lisa Scaffidi formally headed up), Green Drinks, etc. All taking up more time, more money.

    I’m surprised anyone gets any work done at all.

    I think it reasonable to ask today:
    (1) how many services should councils be expected to provide, including subsidisation
    (2) are the projects they are injecting money in to going to be providing tangible returns to the public, ie, City of Freo is peppered with solar panels. Have they been paid off? Where are the outright savings going now? Should they go in to a reserve to provide urgent intervention for those who can’t install solar panels, can’t afford to earn dividends from a community wind farm? Or will the savings just go in to general revenue at Freo, and perhaps subsidise paying more money for electricity from wind or solar farms nearby, to do the “right thing” a little too much?

    And No. 3: Isn’t it finally time for councils (elected members and staff) to stop going off on many different and expensive (time and money) trips to “explore” issues, and just pool info? Imagine, two councils pay for four councillors and four staff, in total, to go off to some place and investigate. They return, and provide a presentation via teleconferencing facilities councils could in fact house internally, and we reach all councils at one time, with info from a deep level Perth perspective?

    Its commercially viable and smart.

    Please consider what the Urban Design Institute is doing with pooling case studies of various initiatives, so their members can avail themselves of what other Perth entities are going:

    Take this concept and develop it as a tool for sharing across councils, so that funds are less consumed with individual fact funding and many bodies flying out and then hiring a person for every initiative at $100,000 plus, than is being utilised to actually deploy projects.

    Written quickly, but seriously, how can we keep affording all of this? Plus WACOSS membership and former Dept of communities cost heavy duties still to come – which maybe the state and federal govts will fund to the degree that includes $100,000 plus salaries and airconditioned offices and many flights to seminars, or maybe they will just say make it work for cheaper.

    We are going to have to rationalise sooner rather than later.

    I just don’t think the cost of local govt is sustainable, not at the rate things are or will be going.


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