Edward Mandla
Social Sustainability Taskforce

Published On: 25/08/2014

The fuel tank gauge that powers this administrations ideas engine must surely be on empty, this proposal proves it.

If ever there was an example of cargo cultism in public policy that treats our own people with contempt, this is it.

Fresh off the boat today, is Mr Joseph Stiglitz and the Lord Mayor’s Office was waiting at the dock.

It’s not that Mr Stiglitz doesn’t have some insights that this administration can use.

According to Mr Stiglitz, “public policy has been hijacked by the elite at the expense of others”. I couldn’t agree more when I think of the City of Sydney.

But we have a remedy for that, with the enfranchisement of the hardworking business people who pay 78% of this Councils rates by making it easy for them to vote next election. That doesn’t mean we cannot start now of course.

Mr Stiglitz’s visit has been used as a pretext to assemble a gaggle of academics to examine another imaginary Hobgoblin, when the solution to all of the issues that are described is surrounding us already.

The people that create jobs and income are here - they’re called businesses. And the people that can examine these issues with in depth knowledge they already possess, work in this organisation, they are called our staff.

Once again we point the finger of blame on things like affordable housing somewhere else, in this case State and Federal Governments, but never at ourselves.

Appointing this new “Super Social Justice Team” is supposed to fix all of that. I would describe it as an academic gabfest.

Nowhere does this proposal even define the problem that this learned body is supposed to be addressing. We talk in the Lord Mayoral minute about broad engagement, in the same agenda as you are proposing to defeat Webcasting of this Councils proceedings.

A refreshing approach to this problem would be to acknowledge that we don’t have the answers to this problem and by the look of the people we are proposing to ask, we would not be getting the answers anytime soon.

We could engage the business community, as they are the ones who provide employment and activity, but we have not bothered to include them in the “Super Social Justice Team”.

Mr Stiglitz has taken aim at financial institutions in America and their bailout costs during the GFC, that is hardly an issue here. The financial community is an enormous contributor to economic activity and our regulatory regime created by the Federal Government which the Lord Mayor has maligned has produced stability in a sea of tempest.

This proposal ignores one undeniable reality about jobs, employment, growth and social cohesion; and that is that a rising tide lifts all boats. What your proposed “Super Social Justice Team” will ignore is that when their thinking held the commanding heights in the 1970’s, we had examples of social breakdown like the Black Panthers, the Brixton riots, the Winter of Discontent, record strikes, unemployment and inflation.

I would suggest that we give up on this and try a more plausible solution, that is make Sydney Business friendly and engage with them on a genuine basis, not the photo opportunities that you seem to so love, and do the hard work on policy.

Or it will be done for us. A new constituency beckons in the 2016 elections.

Edward Mandla
August 2014

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