A car wreck’s tale of bureaucratic incompetence

 

By ALEX NELSON

 

Does anyone know the meaning of “common sense”?
The reason for this query is due to a rather odd situation that has developed – still ongoing – in a parking bay adjacent to the L’il Antz childcare centre at the corner of Undoolya Road and Sturt Terrace; and which is also just down the laneway from where I live.
It transpires that late on Thursday, May 3, a police patrol pulled over an unroadworthy vehicle driving south along Sturt Terrace. There’s no dispute on this point, as the offending vehicle is in an appalling state and clearly unfit to be driven on the streets.
Unfortunately it was pulled up in the parking bay next to L’il Antz, where many parents drop off and collect their children each working day.
Initially that might not have been too much of a problem if, say, the offending car was parked there for a day while arrangements were made to tow it away. I first noticed it on Friday, May 4; and by the end of that day I knew it was going to be there until at least the following Tuesday as the intervening weekend was a long one due to the annual May Day holiday.
There was no likelihood of the town council, on whose public property the car is parked, removing it during that time. Fair enough, I suppose, as L’il Antz was also closed for these days, too.
However, it’s a bit of a worry as this car is in such a shocking state as to be an open invitation to be smashed and trashed, or even set alight.
But the days, and now a week, have passed – and that car is still resolutely parked in the middle of that bay, deteriorating in front of our eyes. When I first saw it, the front right tyre was flat; the next day the front left tyre was deflating, too.
When I walked home from my nightfill job at Woolworths just after midnight on Friday evening, the car was still parked on four wheels; two flat ones at the front, and two fully inflated at the rear.
By Saturday morning (May 12) the rear wheels had been “salvaged” by opportunists at some time in the early hours of the preceding night, and now the car is sitting there propped up on two wheel rims.
This is laughable but there’s “better” to come. I’m now informed that the reason this wreck of a car has been left alone is because no-one in a position of authority is able to do anything about it.
The police, having pulled the car over in the first place, are now powerless to remove the car because it is parked legally – it’s no longer breaking any rules.
Similarly the town council can’t touch it because the vehicle’s registration is still current and apparently that needs to expire first before the council has the legal authority to tow it away.
It had proven impossible to push the car out of the parking bay earlier because it’s steering is locked; now, of course, there is no prospect of doing so.
The car is parked in the bay effectively denying its use by clients of L’il Antz from dropping off or collecting their little children, which means that more people are obliged to use the carpark at the rear of the premises in the laneway, which significantly worsens traffic congestion.
The irony deepens when one learns that the parking bay on Sturt Terrace next to L’il Antz is, of course, public property – but ratepayers never paid for it. It was L’il Antz that was obliged to provide the finance for its construction as a condition for establishing the childcare centre at that location.
What ratepayers and taxpayers do pay for are the substantial salaries and perks for bureaucrats whose hands are bound up by so much red tape.
This is nothing short of risible. After more than a week, nothing has been done – or can be done – to remove a clearly abandoned unroadworthy car wreck parked in a public carpark bay only a half house-block away from one of the town’s busiest intersections.
If something as simple as removing an abandoned vehicle cannot be arranged by the powers-that-be of our fair town, can they be entrusted with the oversight and management of far more important (and invariably more expensive) public projects?
It so happens that during the week this farce was underway, Alice Springs hosted two performances of the Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow. They needn’t have bothered coming here, I reckon, when we’ve clearly got our own clowns putting on such absurd performances in real life.
And as for “common sense” – Ha! Now that’s a laugh!

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6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Bev Emmott
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 2:50 am

    What about two burned out cars near the round about on Undoolya Road – both had for sale signs on them.
    The old song is appropriate. Send in the clowns – yes send in the clowns – don’t bother, they are here!

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  2. Posted May 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

    In response to both Russell Guy and Rex Neindorf, there is no doubt in my mind that the long entrenched and growing social problems we endure in our society can be directly attributed to our country’s multi-tiered system of governance and administration. Our nation’s federal political structure is not just outmoded, it is archaic and hugely inefficient. We have had politicians, especially at federal level, pushing reform of industry and the economy on us for a long time now, and they are continually arguing for greater productivity from the private sector, but the same does not apply to bureaucracy at all three tiers of government.
    Nowhere is this more evident than in the Northern Territory, which I believe must be the most over-governed jurisdiction on the planet. It’s well worth comparing the NT’s statistics and performance with that of the Australian Capital Territory; we have long indulged in the sport of “Canberra-bashing” but we’re not so keen to pluck the log out of our own eye before telling others to take the sticks out of theirs. The ACT actually provides some very (potentially) useful material for a much better standard of governance than what we must endure in the NT. Charles Dickens wrote “A Tale of Two Cities” a long time ago; Australia could easily provide material for a new classic called “A Tale of Two Territories”.

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  3. Russell Guy
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Rex, you use ‘common sense’ in a pejorative sense. In reference to the two tiers of governance, rather than doing away with one of them, as you suggest, common sense might consider researching what rules apply (or don’t as the case may be) and contacting the relevant authorities with a recommendation to legislate for it. The car has been removed, so somebody did something about it.
    With respect, I find your attitude, especially in regard to the need for alcohol reform, lacking a sensible approach. The economic argument alone (excluding unplanned rehab solutions) suggests that the savings to the State would improve the budgetary bottom line and improve services provided by the two tiers of governance.

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  4. Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    @Alex, thank you for bringing this to the attention of the general public. Firstly,has the car been removed? [ED – Yes, it has, yesterday, according to Alex.] Once again a seemingly simple situation has been turned into a ‘mission to the moon’. Houston, we have a problem! This is what we get for supposedly good governance across two levels of government. A good argument here to abolish one of them. This car is not only an eye sore but dangerous, broken glass, rusted steel body, lots of kids close by all makes for a serious accident looming. This car should be removed as it is a danger to the public. I’m sure common sense will prevail here and it will be removed by tomorrow … just joking …. we all know common sense doesn’t exist here.

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  5. Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Hello Dave, your mention of the brand new, and deeply troubled, Aquatic Leisure Centre raises an interesting point. The value of history comes from the lessons that we can learn from past mistakes (and successes) which can be applied to decisions being made for the present. Do you remember the ill-fated Red Centre Rapids waterslide site of the late 1980s? That was a highly controversial development from beginning to end, when the area it occupied was eventually redeveloped as Mercorella Circuit (ironically right next door to the YMCA). It’s worth recalling that private development was opposed by the Alice Springs Town Council (under late Mayor Leslie Oldfield) from the outset – and the town council’s fears were (ahem) rapidly proven correct. Not just once but twice! (There were two attempts by private developers to make it work, before it was abandoned for several years). Did anybody, not least the Alice Springs Town Council, learn anything from this debacle? Obviously not.

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  6. David Chewings
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Given the level of incompetence that you have highlighted AGAIN and AGAIN Alex, it is a miracle that the all important swim centre ever got to the construction stage.
    David Chewings

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