I have a bit of an opinion in such matters. I have watched public meetings,
been part of them, and have come to the conclusion that the way we tend to
do things doesn't seem to be working, and that therefore other ways deserve
For a start, I have watched the glaze come over bureaucrats' eyes when John
Citizen gets up at a public meeting and accuses council of not being
diligent enough in stopping people from blah, blah blah. The way I see it,
the ratepayers and bureaucrats are not us and them, but us and us. And if we
go charging in and demanding they "do their duty" by apprehending or fining
offenders, we just leave them alone to manage with usually inadequate
resources. In so doing, we leave them with the message that it's their
problem, and not ours. Please don't think that I am saying this is what is
happening in Hobart with your friend, because I have no means of knowing how
that situation is. I am simply saying that when it comes to councils
carrying out their duties, individuals within the system can end up feeling
under-resourced and therefore impotent, as well as alienated from the people
for whom they are working - the public.
I was the guest speaker recently at a community meeting (I was there to
earbash them about terns, what else?), and an officer of the Moreton Bay
Marine Park, a damned good man, had agreed to join me as a joint speaker.
Afterwards, two people asked my colleague questions of the whingeing nature
outlined above, and I could see the veiled frustration in my colleague, who
had to talk the official line, but whose reply solved nothing. The truth is
that the rangers ARE under-resourced. However, he did make one sound point:
it is not the QPWS marine park, it is YOUR marine park. I butted in and said
that what my colleague was not able to say, but would probably like to say,
is that under-resourced units are ineffectual, and that they depend very
much on the input of the public wherever they are able.
Signs are important, fines are important, but it seems to me that we need,
as a community, to accept more responsibility for educating each other about
what matters to us. It's time consuming, but I can't see any other way. We
need to educate council officers to value matters which might just be, from
their point of view, a time-consuming irritant. We need to educate the
public about the values, and this can be done by talks at community
meetings, by distribution of brochures, by use of the media, and so on.
People won't value things if they think there is an endless supply, or if
they don't understand them. One person can't change the world, but one
person can make a start, and have an influence within a small region, if it
is gone about in a way that does not alienate people.
So, if I were your friend, I guess I would be thinking about the local
schools, clubs and community groups, and somehow making opportunities to
galvanise support through them - to turn the community's attitude from
"using" the area, to "valuing" it. And working on the council officers to
become their friends and allies, and certainly not their irritant.
I would also be quantifying the matters of which I complain. For instance, I
would sit at a vantage point and quantify the occurrence of human and dog
disobedience, as compared with the total use of the area in question, over a
range of periods highlighting the pressure periods. Quantify the bird use.
(The fact that there may be no birds present does not mean that there is no
bird disturbance. Mere presence of people on a shoreline may deter a bird
from using it. But people are animals, too, and have a place.) If you are
able to say that there is a certain quantified level of non-compliance, the
numbers are something that an officer can take to a higher level, and it
shows that your friend has displayed some commitment to the issue.
But there is no way you can just drop it into council's lap and walk away
from it - that's guaranteed to fail in most instances. I'll be down in
Hobart visiting my parents in late May if your friend wants to have a chat.
I don't have the answers, but I keep looking for them, and have found a few.
I also have a friend who lives in Taroona, with a dog!
Philip Griffin 24/4/03 12:20 PM
> I have a colleague in Taroona, just south of Hobart, Tasmania
> who is concerned by the number of dogs, mostly without leash,
> which are being allowed to walk along the beach and foreshore.
> Apparently it's supposed to be dog free but the local council says
> it doesn't have the resources to patrol more often than they currently
> do. My friend, Rob, is hoping to put some more pressure on the council
> by highlighting some conservation value of reducing dog activity there.
> If there's anyone out there who has any information on Little Penguins
> breeding on that stretch of beach, that would be useful. Rob says
> he has found dead penguins on the beach and that penguins have
> attempted to breed but were killed by dogs.
> Records of Forty-spotted Pardalote would be a handy piece of
> ammunition too, there are Spotted Pardalotes breeding there,
> (again when the dogs don't get to them first) but it's probably only the
> Forty-spotted version that's going to have any significant political clout.
> Any advice, comments or records that may be useful please send to
> Rob Bester -
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51' 152º 56'
Ph (07) 5494 0994
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