Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tender fiasco a telling 'error'

The Government was forced to back-pedal yesterday when journalists challenged the $12,000 allocation for a potential visit and photo opportunity for housing minister, Dick Wynne, at the Roberts Street redevelopment site in Northcote. As detailed in my previous post, the $12,000 for the PR event is an embarrassment when compared to the mere $10,000 allowed in the tender for the 'removal of hazardous materials not identified in the Hazardous Building materials Audit Report'.

Clay Lucas, writing in today's edition of The Age (p.5), yesterday drew a response from a Government spokesman denying that the minister was aware either of the tender or the visit allowance. In a report by Ellen Whinnett in today's Herald Sun (p.9), the same spokesman blamed the Office of Housing, claiming there had been no consultation with the minister.

Unfortunately for the community, this was no simple error. Instead it presents a telling example of a Government that values spin and photo opportunities over doing its job in the public interest. While the Government claims the visit will now not proceed, had it not been exposed in the media there is no doubt it would have been 'lights, camera, action' for Dick Wynne. As for the $12,000, it should be spent on shoring up the processes for handling asbestos on the site, and on the timely communication to residents of information they have a right to know.

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.