WILFULLY CRUEL and DEFIANT OBSTRUCTIONISM
by senior government and council officials
deliberately intended to deter distressed persons
from complaining about neighbourhood barking
In 2004 Mr Alan Churchill, the founder of the anti-Noise group Noise Tasmania, attended a meeting at
Rydges hotel in Hobart city. He recalls the meeting was so southern councils
could exchange ideas for their Dog Management Policy reviews.
Mr Churchill has the following recollections of this meeting
Mr Graeme Yeoland and Mr Alan Garcia
represented the Local Government Office
with Mr Yeoland the Chairman.
In the course of this meeting, Mr Garcia as Chief Executive of the Local Government Association
of Tasmania put forward the suggestion that the fees councils charge for a council's acceptance
of a barking victim's formal complaint should be increased from $10 to $50.
Mr Garcia declared that the purpose behind his suggestion was
"to minimise complaints."
Mr Churchill describes those at the meeting of having a "pandering attitude"
to the above two officials as demonstrated by the eagerness
with which all those present accepted,
without question, Mr Garcia's fee-raising suggestion.
Mr Churchill regards this as a strong indication of a cruel willingness
to deliberately obstruct those with cause for complaints about barking
rather than to acknowledge the dilemmas of ratepayers
who have legitimate concerns about local barking torments.
He feels that the purpose of this obstruction was to wilfully thwart their urgent and justified
pleas for help and wherever possible, to deny the sought relief according to the provisions of law
as approved by Parliament.
This appears a blatant attempt by the Local Government to usurp the will of Parliament,
a power-play intended to reduce councils' workloads
regardless of who, or how many,
are left to suffer.
Councils throughout the state are authorised by the Dog Control Act 2000 to set their own barking
complaint lodgement fees.
Examples of current fees are $10 (Kingborough council) $20 (West Tamar Council) and $65 (Clarence
Kingborough council, to its credit, wants such fees abandoned. Clarence council apparently wants no
complaints at all and has therefore set its fee to the highest in the state.
When the barking complaint fee is paid and basic complaint details are supplied on the approved
form, a council is obliged by law to investigate the complaint. If the council's general manager
eventually feels the complaint lacked substance his council may retain the paid fee.
It must otherwise be refunded in full.
The original purpose for fees was to deter the lodgement of frivolous or vexatious complaints, for
example those lodged in spite as part of a dispute among neighbours.
Australia's anti-barking activists are unanimous in the view that this deterrent purpose is outdated and
have found much evidence to the contrary, namely that distressed persons
nowadays endure barking torments, sometimes for years,
before considering lodging their first complaint
in utter desperation.
Quiet Tasmania supports the "no fee" preference.
These fees always occasion additional 'red tape' for councils, both in their acceptance
and in their refund.
The complainant is deprived of his money until his council's investigation is complete,
a procedure that could take months, while the victim endures prolonged suffering
without any trace of the lawful relief he so desperately seeks.
The imposition of fees is a form of blackmail - pay up or we won't help you.
The police do not charge fees for their acceptance of an assault allegation
yet mischievous assault allegations are common.
Quiet Tasmania's view is that barking is an assault upon the human psyche
(by Noise - which is a measureable force)
and should be treated as an assault at every stage.
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