Shifting responsibility

THE role of State government has been questioned lately, with some talk that many of the services traditionally provided by States could be shifted to councils.

It has been suggested that policing, hospital services and a number of similar community needs could be delivered in much the same form as rubbish collection, that is through local governments.

Debate over the need for State governments is not new.

Many people believe we are over-governed.

Our political columnist, Joe Poprzeczny, questioned that point, referring to the Cube Root Law (CRL) of Assembly Size, which postulates that the number of politicians equals the cube root of the size of the population (WABN, January 17).

For WA to be precisely on target to meet what the CRL suggests, we would have 124 MPs, as that cubed is just more than 1.9 million, our present population level.

If you just take State and Federal politicians, we are on target.

But throw in local councillors and, by that measure, Australians truly are over-governed.

So, assuming we have too many politicians, just which level should go?

Apart from one memorable royal commission here, I would argue that, generally, the level of government with the worst track record is local government.

Whether or not this would improve if State government were to be removed is a moot point.

One thing is for sure … State government could definitely handle the rubbish collection, as well as planning issues where many councils already leave difficult decisions to the State.

The big risk is, what happens if Canberra ruled over a series of boroughs?

Migration moves

I WELCOME a shift in the migration debate back to firmer territory – the value of welcoming newcomers to our land.

Earlier this year, WA Business News took a

good look at this topic and found the economic evidence favoured a big intake of migrants.

Interestingly, refugees had a proportionally high economic impact because they worked very hard when they were given a chance to make a new life.

While I appreciate the thoughts of authors such as anthropologist/palaeontologist Tim Flannery, who argue our environment should have a smaller population, I believe Australia could do with more people.

A bigger population drives up the wealth of all those who live in a country. They provide a bigger market to offer economies of scale and newer, younger migrants will help us deal with the huge rise in numbers of elderly people.

Technology, particularly aimed at sustainability, will help us overcome many of the issues that arise with a bigger population.

Success and succession

MANNY Papadoulis and Harold Clough were as good as expected this week when they kicked off our Succession and Success series.

Both told of the early days in their family businesses when they had to deal with patriarchs who took a different view on the way their business should be run than their newly educated sons.

Their stories were very different and both had unique messages.

Mr Clough reflected on the value of education, particularly the strength of Australia’s graduates in comparison to those of the US, where he went on a scholarship.

The American experience, which included a few years working with a major engineering group, held him in good stead.

He came back to win a contract for WA’s then tallest office block (12 storeys) and turned his father’s small building firm into a listed construction giant.

Mr Papadoulis had a number of good points to make about how Feature Tours had survived and prospered.

Early adoption of technology ($6000 for a fax machine in the mid 1980s), knowing your core business and moving into markets before the competition had an inkling about what was coming were key attributes Mr Papadoulis identified.

But the astuteness of his mother may well have made the difference when it came to passing things on to the next generation.

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