The emperor is naked

The childhood story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, comes to mind to describe the farcical “solution” the City of Melbourne is pursuing to rid the CBD of its nightly invasion by garbage trucks.

Municipal engineer Geoff Robinson parades before councillors wearing a shining, green, innovative, compactor-styled infrastructure ensemble which has been shown to reduce the number of garbage bins in four small city laneways.

They stand transfixed and gasp at the splendour, the cleverness and no doubt await the peer-awarded trophies that must surely flow their way.

But the emperor is naked and no one in authority seems to notice because the problem demands a political solution and political will is non-existent.

Councillors are happy to applaud Mr Robinson’s salesmanship because no one has the stomach for a fight with the Victorian Waste Management Association whose members are benefiting at the expense of CBD residents.

Councillors have been convinced by management that competition law prevents them from reducing the mob of 40 different truck companies down to an acceptable few.

CBD residents would certainly appreciate a policy position to this effect.

Councillors know what the problem is.  But they don’t really KNOW, because they haven’t experienced it.

Cr Ken Ong said on June 7: ““We have 40 companies moving around this city emptying two bins here and three bins there.  Which major city in the world actually operates like that?”

Nicely said Ken! But then he went and spoiled it all by making a claim that a few more compactors could somehow reduce the number of companies to less than six.  And this is at a time when the number of companies is growing – and rapidly.

Leaving aside the extreme carbon footprint of these belching monsters (and the stark contrast with some of the righteous fuss and nonsense the council is making over its final kilometre freight “plan”?), the questions that councillors should be asking are:

  • How many compactors would be needed to put one within a reasonable distance of all city businesses and residents?
  • What would this cost?

It wouldn’t take very long to figure out that this is policy going nowhere fast.

No councillors live in the CBD. In fact, very few live even close. Another question they should themselves is how far they would walk to put their rubbish in the bin?

Would they walk to the end of their driveway? Maybe. Would they walk to the end of the street? Of course not.

How about a city block? At night?  Among the homeless and the ice-affected? Are you kidding!

I propose that the City of Melbourne rents a CBD apartment and then rotates its councillors and senior staff through it.  A short time each would be enough for them to fully appreciate their policy failure.  Only then will they able to see that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.

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