Good legislation and there it finishes

Feel good statements, public moralising … no result        23 June 2020



-Related article by Robert Gottliebsen The Australian website 13 August 2020 or page 24 The Australian 14 August 2020.

Gottliebsen examines the “survival of the unfittest” and promoting inefficient people to a level where they finally get found out, leading to almost certain failure of the company involved.

-Related article The West Australian 8 August 2020

A guest on ABC Radio Perth Breakfast last week made one of the most profound statements I have ever heard from a journalist.

He said something like: Australia seems to do pretty well putting good legislation in place but doesn’t seem to do very well at enforcing it.

Angus Grigg of The Financial Review was discussing his story on the Perth Mint buying gold from a convicted killer in Papua-New Guinea and this transaction’s connection to smaller gold mines which use child labour.

Grigg’s point was that Perth Mint has a strong publicly displayed moral ethos but then conducts a transaction like this linked to villains and exploiters.

Great point!

How much of Australian government and business and even charitable groups are bound by wonderful ethical motives or clear-cut guidelines of how to do things, then do not deliver?

I was reminded of Quality Assurance when the do-gooders fell over themselves to have mission statements and the like. Once qualified they put up a sticker saying their company was QA. Made not a blind bit of difference.

They were crap companies before QA and remained so afterwards but my God didn’t they all feel good about themselves?

Another one is recycling. It’s a good thing. We put things in separate bins, some of us even clean the waste before disposing. We feel good.

Then what happens?

A lot of it gets recycled but if the processing units cannot cope then it goes to landfill. Cynical perhaps but I bet it happens.

You have members of the public championing recycling, tut-tutting others if they don’t do it right. Yet have the tut-tutters ever been to a recycling plant to see how it’s done? Almost certainly not.

Good legislation. Not enforced.

Then you have charities which raise money for very worthy causes like bushfire victims. The public kick in with great heart, those affected by the fires read of the generosity and feel a tiny bit better. Then what happens? Six months since the devastation and there are charities and government bodies still with the money and not a dollar distributed.

The State Government last week passed the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Amendment Bill 2019 (WA) so those who don’t pay fines are not sent to jail.  

Part of the legislation allows for ‘work and development permits’ which will become an option for debtors experiencing hardship affecting their ability to pay their fine debts.

Great idea. Good legislation.

Will it be enforced? Doubt it. The fine payers will be instructed to join a work party let’s say to pick up litter somewhere on Great Eastern Highway. If they turn up, they won’t last there long. Most will have a bit of a pause, maybe a lie down on the grass and decide I’m not doing this. Or they will just bolt.

Another example bobbed up after I began this piece. It recalled the financial collapse of White Ribbon Foundation, an anti-domestic violence charity, and its re-emergence that day with a different work ethos. Its new chief executive Brian Chilcott said it was time for less talk, more action.

“Reciting a pledge and putting on a ribbon isn’t going to end violence,” he said. “It also doesn’t make a man a hero that he’s taken a pledge. We need to see deeper and more meaningful action.”


More doers and less hand-wringers; more people helping people, less attending functions and being met by Government Ministers.

All these Australians wasting their time and possibly even energy portraying themselves as champions of a cause. Then doing bugger all about it, except boring the life out of unprepared victims.

Bore me for God’s sake if you are personally making a difference at the coalface of human suffering.

Spare me if you’re just into talk and getting accredited for it.

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