Should be flying flag more

December 07, 2017

The lack of Australian flags being flown across Greater Shepparton has drawn John Gray's ire.

What two days should be the two days when the Australian national flag, currently the Blue Ensign, ought solemnly and respectfully be flown from every individual flagpole or in precedential prominence in a group of flagpoles?

Of course, Anzac Day, April 25, and Remembrance Day, originally called Armistice Day, November 11.

How come, then, is there no more and, if either day falls on a weekend, sometimes less, flying of our national flag on those sacred days?

Too many ‘‘naked’’ flagpoles.

Council leads the way in flag flying by example at least, bar the Senior Citizens’ building, at the Civic Precinct — but leaves at least half a dozen council-controlled poles bare, most for 365 days per annum, for example, in Mooroopna’s main drag.

Even the RSL seems to have abandoned two of the tallest poles on its Wyndham St frontage (see picture taken on Remembrance Day last month). Can’t we do better?

●These two cultures are bound to conflict — ‘‘User pays’’ and ‘‘Hapless ratepayers cough-up yet again’’.

Landing fees at the Shepparton Airport and CBD parking are two prime similar current examples — private aviators wanting age-old ratepaying annual airport operational subsidy to continue and ‘‘free’’ CBD parking advocates urging council to shift parking regulation costs from motorists to innocent payers of property rates.

Then there is the issue of ‘‘free’’ hard rubbish collection and ‘‘free’’ tip vouchers.

What is wrong with user pays in most cases?

Sporting, cultural and aesthetic facilities may qualify for some or total dispensation — community physical health, enhancement of mind and spirit together with a pleasing environment to be encouraged, but increasingly we are going to witness sharp increases in ‘‘user pays’’, or at least ‘‘beneficiary pays’’.

Whether we like it or not, we had better get used to it — freebies are on the way out, particularly in municipal administration.

●Came across an interesting boo-boo in a Greater Shepparton City Council road part-closure public notice — quote, in part, ‘‘and this road is part closed during the duration’’.

Now we have a rough idea what ‘‘during’’ means viz. ‘‘throughout’’ — probably it’s a preposition for those who know what parsing is.

And we know that the noun ‘‘duration’’ means ‘‘the period of time when something continues’’, but what does ‘‘during the duration mean’’?

I’m guessing, in my interpreting of the councilese (new word), it simply means that the road will be part-closed from Monday, December 4 until Friday, December 9.

Why not just say that?

‘‘During the duration’’, indeed.

Does City Hall need a style guide?

●Greater Shepparton’s ‘‘new’’ council is no longer ‘‘new’’ — it is now a couple of weeks into its second year.

So what is the verdict?

On the credit side we have ourselves a nine-person cohesive cohort of councillors — basically committed to progressing the city.

On the debit side we seem to be missing some vigourous debate and some much-needed council-meeting-initiated direction on policies and direction.

We need some individual entrepreneurial enterprise.

Far too often officers’ recommendations appear to be ‘‘rubber stamped’’ without any refining or minor alteration.

Don’t get me wrong. Often those advices need no embellishment or alteration, but amendments and addendums are far too rare.

This column has often lamented the demise of ‘‘council study tours’’ — you know where the whole council heads off, together with directors, to visit other similar-sized municipalities, for example Albury, Wodonga and Wagga, preferably incorporating a council meeting if possible, to inspect projects and to compare notes.

The end of council’s first year is the perfect time for such a two-night trip, in terms of a broader horizon and personal interaction.

Junket you say? Can’t agree. The team needs a lift.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.

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