What does the Numurkah Tyre Dump, the Illegal Toxic Waste Dumps and the Flammable Cladding scandal all have in common?
Go to the top of the class if your answer was they all have, or will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to rectify.
All of these issues are a direct result of the gradual process set in place mainly by, but not limited to, conservative governments to privatise and deregulate Government services all in the name of reducing "red tape" and having a budget surplus.
In Victoria, the watering down of Councils role in overseeing building regulations started with the Kirner ALP government and was massively increased during the Kennett years.
I have personal experience of private building inspectors.
We wanted to build a verandah/deck-all we had to do was submit the plan and pay a fee and hey presto, permit and sign off without even one inspection!
Its just a deck I hear you say but this malaise has spread through the whole building industry and now we find ourselves in the grip of a major crisis with the flammable cladding issue. (See link below).
To rectify the flammable cladding issue will cost us Billions, then we have the Illegal toxic waste dumping by unscrupulous individuals, more taxpayers money to clean that up (if indeed it can be).
The Numurkah tyre dump pales in comparison to these and other issues but the problems go back to unenforced Government regulation and private companies doing what Governments used to do.
In the pre-deregulation/privatisation days we had experienced public servants enforcing rules and regulations for the public good. Now we have private companies whose only motive is profit, doing the same job, poorly.
This state of affairs leads to the exodus of experienced public servants either by being sacked in the name of budget surpluses, or being poached by the private sector to do the same jobs they were doing before but this time, for the benefit of the private company instead of the public good.
This in turn leads to the de-skilling and understaffing of the public service, the very organisation that is supposed to enforce the rules and regulations that prevent disasters like the cladding crisis from happening in the first place.
The Neo-Liberal obsession of deregulation/privatisation that was supposed to save taxpayers money has in fact had the opposite effect, costing taxpayers billions, delivering poor outcomes while fattening the wallets of many private companies.
Our Pentecostal PM, Scott Morrison said before the election he wanted to cut "green tape" for business. That is of course code for winding back environmental safeguards much like the Donald has done in the USA.
Given our poor history of environmental protection since white settlement and the worlds extinctions crisis that Australia is a major contributor to, I can only shudder at the consequences this decision would have.
It is a situation that must not be allowed to occur.