Federal government take over mismanaged state relief effort

On Sunday, with only a quiet mention by ABC’s ‘Insiders’ programme, the Rudd government took over coordinating the relief from Brumby’s Victoria state government.

It was very subtle and would not have been noticed by any outsiders, but the army are now in charge of the relief effort.

The army normally get involved in state emergencies, providing aid and assistance to the community at these times, however they are normally coordinated by the state government, providing assistance, not taking over the operation entirely.

So what happened?

State relief organisations were finding that they were not able to carry out their mandates.

The CFA, Red Cross, SES, Police, and other Emergency and support services were able to organise their part of the relief effort, but when it came to managing the overall efforts of these agencies, the state government had frozen.

The state government was afraid to make a decision for fear that it would be the wrong decision, therefore they made no decision at all.

Important strategic decisions that will affect the macro economy of local areas still have not been made, because the state government is afraid of the political fallout.

The heads of support agencies were begin caught up in the political wrangling at state level and finding themselves suspending decisions in order to appease a bungling Brumby government.

There are hundred upon thousands of goods that need to be utilised, but not necessary distributed.

For example, hundreds of white goods have been donated by large cooperations throughout Australia. However, if you give these goods to those who are trying to rebuild, what will happen to the local white goods business, which is also trying to rebuild.

If you give these communities everything they need, you ultimately doom them to failure, because you kill off the business that sustain that community in the long run.

The state government knows this and is frozen like a deer in the headlight of the oncoming car called ‘relief’.

So now the army are involved which makes this a federal matter. It was subtle, and nobody will even notice. However in three years when these fire effected towns are complaining that their infrastructure has been damaged and the town is dead, it will be the federal government that takes the blame.

What is the alternative? How can people use the donated gifts?

Firstly the support organisations generally would prefer financial donations. That way it all goes into a big pot and can be distributed evenly to the areas in need. Money can also be stored in banks rather than taking up precious warehouse space and time management.

The majority of the donators are doing it out of goodwill, however there are some organisations that are only donating to be seen to give. Some organisations donated items that they were specifically told could not be used, however they turned up with the press, got their picture taken, and the disappeared, leaving the support agency with the added headache of storing, transporting, and distributing unwanted goods, when money would have been more useful.

Care has to be taken when distributing the white and brown goods that have been donated.

The goods should perhaps go to the relief centres to keep food cold, and into community loaned centres to entertain the locals. However, so as not to impact on the local economy, they should then be removed, or sold to the existing local independent white or brown goods retailers at a discounted rate, so that they can sell them on within the community and rebuild the micro economy of that area.

None of this was happening, because the state government was frozen in its decision making.

So now the army has taken over, and any political blame, now rests on the broader shoulders of the federal government.


~ by jeditopcat on 17 February, 2009.

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