The ACT can learn a lot from the Coroner’s findings into the 2014 Lindt Café siege in Sydney and the problem of making laws too complicated and ignoring what people really want.
The Coroner’s findings revealed a tragic tale of mistakes by authorities which had more to do with legal niceties than firmly dealing with the problem facing 18 hostages. The DPP, police communications, not using a specialist marksman, an inexperienced psychiatrist, all contributed.
The ACT’s legal rules and regulations urged on by our bureaucracy suffer from the same constraints due to a convoluted respect for civil liberties.
Take dog attacks. Recently we had the situation of a young boy mauled by two dogs owned by a public housing tenant. As the tenant could not pay, the ACT government was taken to court and the case was lost. Surely if a person or another animal is attacked and a complaint made, the offending dog is destroyed?
Then there are development applications being breached by builders. A labyrinth of steps can be taken to resolve the issue, often with major consequences, particularly to neighbours. Why not have the offending breach of the DA demolished?
A pending matter for the next election is the display of corflutes (campaign signs) following justifiable complaints about their proliferation on public land at major intersections.
Leaving aside why anyone would vote for a face rather than policies one suggestion was to ration the number of corflutes per candidate. Rangers could patrol and count these signs, meaning a whole new set of clumsy rules is established. Why not ban all corflutes upon public land?
No doubt some will maintain justice in all cases will not be served if we revert to simple laws (although this may be difficult with corflutes). However, it can be argued life is becoming daily more complicated and efforts to compensate by addressing civil liberties and privacy concerns are often hindering rather than helping.
An example is communication. How often do crimes occur in the ACT and names, except those of ADFA cadets on sex charges, get suppressed? How often do explanations or apologies, particularly in government or business matters, meet with silence? The ACTEWAGL metre readings over guestimates took weeks for an official response.
Privacy now is used to cover mistakes or to protect someone’s name, irrespective of circumstance, yet we are finding electronic technology otherwise is rendering privacy obsolete.
Complicating the law also leads to delays in court proceedings, frustrating both sides, while an official tolerance to so many irritations of the roads, rates and rubbish variety, makes it seem like ACT officialdom does not care, despite weasel words to the contrary.
Our Chief Minister wants to engage more of the ACT community in consultation about the future Canberra. This is commendable, a move which hopefully will see not just young citizens but also the old involved in discussions.
Will not the outcome of this initiative be that people want to get on with their lives with simple easy-to-understand laws for civilised safe behaviour being enforced, while honest prompt explanations are given for mistakes?