Citizens Opposed to Bureaucratic Bullying and Excessive Regulation

Examples from Town and Country

Forced Puchases

It is sickening to read of citizens being charged many thousands of dollars for road improvement work that they do not require or desire.  In some cases the road passes through a residential area and is being improved for the benefit of through traffic. It is not fair to charge local residents for the work in this situation.

You can’t invoke the user pays philosophy when the customer does not want the “service”.  Councils are absolute monopolies, and creating work and income for themselves by imposing unwanted “improvements” is an abuse.

(from Newsletter #1)

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Country Victoria

A lady buys a dozen or so acres in a country town to create a tourist attraction. She pays the money, hires the designers, applies to the Council, and sows the crops that will be sold in various products on site.

Not seeking any special exemptions, she conforms with council requirements (build 5m from the road), only to find that a state tribunal hearing later contradicts council specifications (build 20m from the road). Wasting another year. No hope of compensation for Council bungling. She amends her plans, only to find subsequently, the regional Water Board further contradicts council specifications, delaying her business by yet another year. Not the citizen’s fault, says the Board, but once again she’s the loser.

This is a perfect example where two or more bureaucracies mess up the life and work of a citizen. COBBERs says that when this happens, the bureaus are obliged to make a special finding right away so that the citizen can get on with his or her life without further suffering and loss.

Then the (respective) bureaus go back to the drawing board and come up with a (jointly) consistent regime that is reasonable for future cases.

It is an outrage that staffs of “competing” bureaus slug it out  —  contesting points, their own lives and income totally unaffected, while the innocent citizen is left squirming like a rabbit in a trap.

Bureaus have the resources, the expertise, and the obligation to save citizens from these nightmares. In the present climate of Australian bureaucracy, there is a callous attitude of disregard for the suffering of citizens. We have many cases on our books.

(from Newsletter #2)

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Country NSW

There seems to be a bureaucratic push for sewerage systems in country villages.  There are many aspects of this scheme which smack of Bureaucratic Bullying and Excessive Regulation

First of all, there’s the basic question of good civil engineering. Bureaucracies often seem to push expensive projects that are not all that beneficial to the citizenry. Are they just building empires for themselves? Many country properties have on-site toilet systems known as septic tanks which have worked perfectly well for many decades. Why are people being forced to replace them?  Stopping coastal outlets which pollute beaches  —  now there’s a justifiable control. But the inland?

The traditional septic tank has the wonderful virtue of not being dependent on several other vulnerable systems. They’re saying (we’re told) that anyone in the targeted towns whose toilet is within 75m of the new street sewer pipe will have to join up.  Now the first word that comes to mind is VULNERABILITY. 75m, even 25m, is a long way for solid waste to move almost horizontally through domestic pipe in areas where there is often a shortage of water. You also think of roots, rocks, therefore turns, and farmers and gardeners digging and breaking pipes.  Hazards which did not exist before.  Plenty of work for plumbers, plenty of cost to citizens.

Then there’s the public part of the operation: you will have to deeply bury many kilometres of large pipe, amassing large volumes of sewerage which have to be constantly moved and treated.  More expensive systems and more ways of breaking down. You will need bureau employees or contractors to maintain the pipes, and run the treatment plants. When these systems break down you will have far more health-risk, nuisance and expense than on-site septics cause.  Just think what a curse all this will be during droughts, floods, strikes, power failures and recessions.

If there is in fact anyone who has not got their septic working properly, would it not be far better to help these individuals and leave the other citizens alone? If many citizens want this new system and are happy to pay for it, let them have it and not force it onto others  —   who may join up in the future if it turns out to be a genuine blessing.

Quite apart from the questionable engineering good sense of this scheme there are three bullying features:

  1. citizens are forced to have it,
  2. they are forced to pay for it, and
  3. they are forced to pay years before the work is done.

Citizens who have said they can’t pay have been told the money will be taken from their estate, the house sold if necessary to cover the debt.

(from Newsletter #2)

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COBBERs COMMENTARY

This entire manoeuvre is yet another way for bureaucracy to say it is not your land, it is ours. It is a further assertion of the new aristocracy, the new lords of bureaucracy, controllers of the land, de facto owners.

Democracy means personal ownership. Ownership means control, it does not mean being at the mercy of a faceless elite.

Forced changes to a citizen’s property should be regretted and avoided in a democracy  —  not increasingly invented by self-seeking councils as is happening in Australia today.

  1. It is not acceptable that a citizen is forced to change when they are living their own lives, hurting no one.
  2. It is not acceptable that the individual is forced to pay if the change being foisted upon them is allegedly for the common good. If this were really the case, the project should be paid for out of the common chest. 
  3. And as for charging people YEARS IN ADVANCE for work not done  —  this is a grievous breach of the fundamental morality of trade. Taking money from people on the basis of unwanted services that may occur at some future time. Depriving people of the authority over their own earnings, people who may die before the service is delivered. This is going outside the common law understanding of fair trading. Where is the fraud squad or the extortion squad?

(from Newsletter #2)

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From the Suburbs around Australia

Hundreds of millions of dollars are now collected annually in dubious parking, traffic and other penalties

The $200 Cup of Water

The annual award for pettiness may go to a Council Officer who fined a young woman passenger $200 for emptying the remains of her cup of water from her car window.  I know I have often tipped drink from a cup that was too full, or emptied what was left. Shall we also fine God for the rain?

COUNTLESS CASES of COUNCILS using PARKING powers for REVENUE RAISING

Many distressed citizens tell of receiving parking tickets for after hours, night-time and weekend parking “infringements” in places where there was plenty of parking space available. As COBBERs has already argued in Newsletters #1 and #2, councils have no business penalising citizens under these conditions: this is fleecing citizens: it has nothing to do with ensuring a fair sharing of parking space.

MORE STORIES of ENTRAPMENT

Unfortunately the police practice of pausing in traffic, then booking innocent motorists who cautiously proceed, continues to prove that officers are under pressure to collect revenue from citizens.  A police car recently appeared to be giving way at a roundabout.  No sooner did a young man move into the circle, than the police car came to life and pursued him for $170. How much longer will this go on?

HOW to MAKE $1000 out of NOTHING

All you need is a speed camera, an electronic court, and some tricky speed signs. You take a busy route, sign the speed at 70 kph, then reduce it to 60 kph for the last kilometre leg. Of course you catch many citizens without even a hint of dangerous driving. COBBERs has checked the route.

Out goes the fine notice  –  exceeding by less than 15kph. Also, being a business registered number, a demand to know who was driving at the time.  The struggling small businessman didn’t respond.  An electronic “PERIN” court automatically bumps up the fine (to $600), adds court costs ($36), and adds charges ($35.50).

The cumulative demands had already exceeded $900 at the time of writing. But under today’s merciless and grasping regime, this hapless family man has slim hope of escaping any of this highway robbery.

This is a classic demonstration of the new corruption:  overfining and overcharging, breathtakingly automated.

A DOUBLE GOLD SPOT TUNNEL

New tunnel in Sydney  –  complete with speed cameras of course  –  catches commuters both ways. No dangerous driving required  –  just accelerate a little down one side to get up the other side. A real money spinner for some bureau.

If we had to flag every little change in road conditions, we’d put a little higher-speed sign at the dip. But then we’d have signs everywhere. Let’s forget the extra signs and just use common sense in imposing fines.

A PLATINUM SPOT

Serious dollars here. How’s it done?  You take a normally quiet street in Melbourne that gets clogged with traffic every workday morning. Cars crawl a few metres then stop again. You could play street cricket between the two columns of stalled traffic.

There are few if any pedestrians. There were absolutely none when our citizen was nailed. There is however a “children’s” pedestrian crossing (near a school), only two lanes wide, any road markings totally invisible under the cars  –  and no CROSSING signs at all.

How can this be a platinum spot? Well, inevitably cars pause over the invisible crossing. They’re then booked for improperly PARKING ON A CROSSING if they’re anywhere from 20 metres before to 10 metres after the crossing!

An absolute goldmine: every morning without fail: many innocent drivers: $100 a pop: straight into local council coffers.  COBBERs has observed this operation for 12 months: no signs throughout the entire period.

Goodness knows how long this scam has been operating. Not a hint of danger, but a PLATINUM spot if ever there were one. This daily RIP-OFF of citizens is a perfect example of The New Corruption.It may even be a case of The Old Corruption as well (that is to say, it’s quite possibly illegal as well as antisocial). Citizens are simply being ambushed.

NEW VEIN of GOLD for VIC GOVT

They’ve announced they’re going to reduce the suburban speed limit from 60kph to 50kph, policed by more cameras.  This was the speed 50 years ago; brakes have greatly improved since then. Most suburban blocks are devoid of traffic most of the time. It is unnatural to travel this slowly in a modern car in an empty street.

Motorists constantly slow down, below the signed speed, in busy or congested areas, without anyone telling them do so. Society utterly depends on motorists’ common sense, which overrules the signs a thousand times a day. But we give motorists no credit when conditions are safer than average: speed cameras inflict penalties without discrimination, without common sense. We expect goodwill and maturity from citizens, but bureaucracy acts like a schoolyard bully.

TIGHTENING the SCREWS

As citizens are bullied into ever more precise obedience, bureaucracy has to grow.  It must increase its controls and its surveillance in order to maintain the same hundreds of millions of dollars income from penalties it now depends on. The new corruption is not personal crime, it is the corporate or systemic plundering of citizens.

(from Newsletter #3)

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