What to do with the ferals?
We don’t seem to have much by way of answers in this part of the world.
I’m talking about the wreckers who cost us money and make damned nuisances of themselves but not to the point where we are prepared to put them in gaol – in this case those who vandalize their taxpayer provided accommodation.
ABC Online reported recently that “According to an ACT Government department, public housing properties in the ACT received nearly $73,000 worth of damage each week last financial year.
ACT Housing and Community Services figures show in all more than $3.7 million in damage was reported at properties due to vandalism, misuse or neglect in 2013-14.
That amount was on top of damage caused through normal wear and tear.”
So, it’s deliberate – or certainly avoidable – damage.
Housing and Community Services executive director David Matthews sought to dilute the issue with some meaningless maths.
He averaged out the damage bill – to no point whatever – and told us that it worked out to $320 per property.
In doing so, he contradicted his previous position that most tenants are responsible types.
On the one hand Mr Matthews presumably wants us to believe that only a small proportion of the tenants are deliberately destructive but then goes on to amortise the cost over the lot.
This seems hardly fair to the people who look after the properties they live in, and I am prepared to believe Mr Matthews when he says this is true of the majority.
It acknowledges the real world position where in any given example a small number of miscreants usually cause most of the trouble.
He goes on to say “But in the context of 11,800 properties and the over 20,000 people who live in public housing, the amount is not unreasonable.
“I think we experience exactly the same issues as everywhere else in the country and even in the private rental market generally.”
Neither of those statements is correct.
It’s not reasonable for a few ferals to needlessly waste money paid in tax by the reasonably law abiding just because they hate the world, don’t value what is given to them free or are so lazy and dissolute they simply don’t care to keep their habitat in good order.
As to his second comment, apparently Mr Matthews’ Granny never told him that two wrongs don’t make a right.
Also I dispute the idea the private rental market operates the same way.
Bad tenants get found out, get evicted, lose their bond money, find it hard to rent again and so on.
When I was in Canberra I remember getting phone calls on the air from public service employees who told me that the files on the consistent troublemakers used to get put to the bottom of the pile (these days I assume figuratively speaking) because it was just all too hard.
I don’t think we’re really going to see anything much done, but for entertainment purposes only, let me recount what was told to me by a radio announcer from Singapore years ago.
He said that when the administration needed factory fodder to keep the production lines rolling, they encouraged thousands of what were described as “hill people” to leave their mud huts and move to where the urban action was.
They were provided accommodation in government buildings at a nominal rent.
These were people to whom indoor plumbing and cooking was a new adventure.
But here’s the clever bit: the authorities would leave them alone for six months or so to give them enough time to get used to enjoying the pleasure of having money to spend on all the goods and services a developed modern city can provide.
In other words, they trained them to become good, dependent members of the consumer society.
Then the housing inspectors would call.
For every careless use (or non-use) of the bathroom facilities, for all the nasty stains, rips, tears, holes in the carpet, the walls or whatever – they were heavily fined.
This meant that our by now committed consumers had their consuming curtailed because of the sharp decrease in disposable income as a result of having to pay those heavy fines over months and years.
My informant assured me that the next time the inspectors called, there would be hardly a burn mark to be seen or stain to be explained.
Of course I don’t expect anything like the above to happen in the ACT.
I’m just offering what I hope is a pleasant mental picture of what might be done in an alternate universe if the thought of your hard earned being deliberately wasted makes you angry.