September 26, 2003


Sometimes -- well, all the time -- Iím inclined to agree with people who claim Australia has at least one too many tiers of government:

A plan by the inhabitants of Spike Milligan's Australian home town to walk backwards in his honour has been quashed by the local council on safety grounds, the organisers said.

In a turn of events that would no doubt have appealed to Milligan's sense of the absurd, festival officials have been told to change their plans by the local authorities, who fear that any injuries could land them with a hefty claim for compensation.

The organisers have come up with a compromise - festival-goers will walk normally but wear their clothes back to front, with face masks on the back of their heads.

But what if the masks cause breathing problems? Or the back-to-front clothing leads to permanent disorientation? The compensation claims for psychotropic medication will be gigantic.

(Via Simon A.)

Posted by Tim Blair at September 26, 2003 03:54 AM

Ok, I'm used to hearing about stupid shit that some part or other of the Australian gov't is doing, but this is just fucking ridiculous.

I think this exceeds my "stupid quota" for the day.

Posted by: Tim in PA at September 26, 2003 at 04:12 AM

Though I'd second the comments about gov't idiocy, I'm just wondering how Woy Woy claims Milligan as it's "most famous son", when it was only his parents & brother who emigrated there. Sure, he visited them & parodied the place as an "above-ground cemetery", but if this makes him a Woy Woy-ian (or whatever), then I guess I'm not only English, but Parisian, Atheneian, Bostonian, etc etc as the fancy takes me.

Posted by: oiskin at September 26, 2003 at 07:09 AM

Here's a question - what would be your favourite tier of government to abolish?

The old Whitlamite dream was to abolish the States - but think of the implications of basically unchallenged central government power wielded from a distant and artificial city. Our politicians should be forced to live among us as much as possible, and government should be "local" and accessible enough to give us something more like a *real* say.

I'm for dumping the Commonwealth Government. Having the top tier of government in the State capital might be far from ideal for people in the bush or regional cities, but it's a lot better than being governed by the priveleged denizens of Canberra, who too often show no real understanding of the country in which they live.

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at September 26, 2003 at 09:32 AM

Here in Britain we laugh at your ridiculous health and safety laws. We only bring in the government to advise on really dangerous activities, such as the eating of carrots.

"HEALTH chiefs sent teachers instructions - on how children should eat carrots.

Emails marked "Urgent" told them: "Wash them, eat them from the bottom, discard the top." It said that was the method recommended by the Department of Health in Whitehall."

Posted by: Ross at September 26, 2003 at 09:59 AM

I'd rather not abolish the federal government: the idea of the Australian armed forces being split in six and put under the control of Carr, Bracks, Beattie, et al is too scary for me.

But I'd be all for abolishing local governments. The useful functions of local government are limited to picking up the garbage, and I'm sure this can be administrated just as well from Macquarie St.

Posted by: Jorge at September 26, 2003 at 10:20 AM

In these cases, it's not government that's the direct problem. It's the legal industry. Easily solved:
1) Close all the law schools for 20 years;
2) Ban lawyers from political positions, including local government;
3) Appointed judges be subject to re-endorsement by vote at general elections;
4) And "user beware'', "enter at own risk'', "shit happens'' signs be sufficient in law to keep fools, ambulance chasers and sharks out of courts.
5) Ban out of court settlements in damages cases.

Posted by: slatts at September 26, 2003 at 12:40 PM

"...really dangerous activities, such as the eating of carrots"

Corrected link:

Posted by: Paul Stinchfield at September 26, 2003 at 12:56 PM

Jorge wrote: 'The useful functions of local government are limited to picking up the garbage ...'

Councils now sub-contract that out so that they can get on with the job of political lobbying; collecting petitions to allow illegal immigrants free entry to Australia ahead of legal ones; holding installation art shows for left-handed lesbian outworkers; preventing people walking their dogs in the park; stopping builders building buildings; buying up housing stock in quiet local neighbourhoods to house recidivist criminals; outlawing ham sandwiches; issuing expensive public relations flyers of broadsheet newspaper size featuring mission statements containing thousands of totally meaningless words; preventing legal businesses such as McDonalds who provide employment from setting up; promoting social division by allowing preferential use of community facilities and taking ratepayer-funded expensive overseas 'study' trips.

Posted by: ilibcc at September 26, 2003 at 01:34 PM

Gee, Tim, sometimes you're not a very good right-winger.

You need to read Hayek on the benefits of decentralisation and local control.

This council's fear of litigation is just fucking madness, though.

Posted by: Mork at September 26, 2003 at 02:01 PM

I dunno, Jorge. Having 6 armies wouldn't be that bad. I can't see any other way for Beattie to ensure that the oppressed people of the Northern Rivers District are able to realise their deep historical bond with the freedom-loving peoples of Queensland. Should be the best "State of Origin" ever!

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at September 26, 2003 at 07:11 PM

In other news, Segways are being recalled because the Federal (U.S.) government has determined that they fall over when the batteries run out. Well, duh!

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at September 27, 2003 at 10:08 AM