Thursday, November 11, 2010

...the missing link

I have now passed the half way mark of my field work, with about a month to go. I am in much less familiar territory now and have had some negative experiences in one or two councils in recent days that have been frustrating. An experience of having a very unhelpful council, with a very fractious relationship with their community and almost total non compliance in the cross section of consents has left me with rather strong tendencies towards the thankfully wider array of wine than is available in most regions....

I have read some detailed environnment court cases and consents lately. Some have seen over $100 000 spent on figuring out appropriate environmental controls and requirements. The outcomes are often random, and one can't help that think those involved lost sight of the long term view a long time ago. That being whether we genuinely do intend to sustainably manage our natural and physical resources, or whether we'd rather just fanny about the edges and tick a box.

What lies between law and the environment are people. And people are not rational beings...and no matter how linear the law and how precious the environment, the decisions are political and twisted, chopped and screwed to meet ends that sit outside the purpose and principles of the act. And the middlemen are everywhere.

They are the guys that sit in inflated bureaucracies in south-east Asia collecting bribes for sandalwood and tiger paws; the politcians who take the kick-backs from the illegal mining operations by overseas monkeys in vulnerable communities of Indonesia and PNG; and they are the planners here that fail to understand their purpose.

They arent meant to be there to bully applicants and throw the book at them. Neither are they there to be mates with everyone, even the prize lunatic tearing around his farm filling in streams and spraying god knows what everywhere. They are there to fairly administer a set of rules, keeping in mind their spirit and intent.

If theres anything I have learned over the past few weeks, it is that people make all the difference. The individual small choices made by applicants, offenders, planners, commissioners, submitters, politicians and everyone else who has a stake in the environment (which IS everyone else) matter more that technical solutions, law reviews and policy frameworks that we spend so much money and time on.

You start with a give them a lawbook....they are still a muppet, they're just holding a lawbook...

Not sure how to fix that....

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