Bureaucracy Gone Mad (Absurdity at its best)

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 07:41
ThreadID: 132795 Views:5200 Replies:16 FollowUps:12
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In a world where litigation and compensation lawyers run rampant there is a duty of care to protect people. Arguably from the compensation lawyers, rather than themselves!

But could authorities stop wrapping people in “cotton wool” when common sense is all that is needed, not a work, health, and safety document for a weekend of camping...

The following story is an example of enterprising people opening up some of their land for camping, but to continue they need to register it as a campsite at the cost of thousand’s of dollars.

This type of camping has been going on for years, eons – come on bureaucrats, we’re big people and get by just fine with a little bit of common sense.

Common sense, something that appears to be lacking in the corridors of the Shoalhaven Council Chambers…

And yes, I'll bet that most of us here have the required level of "common sense" but it can be lacking for some...

Sunday morning rant over…

Private Land holders renting camping spots.

Enjoy your day, Baz – The Landy
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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:13

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:13
Hey Baz

Nowadays I have found commonsense to be scarce very scarce - even rare.

Staff, especially in large organizations,seem to get tied up more and more in what I call busy work. No product comes out the end but lots of forms and reports (that no one reads) have been produced.

There is a lot of difference between
‘Human Being’ and ‘Being Human’.

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Reply By: rumpig - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:37

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:37
That case is nothing new, plenty of councils want in on their cut of the action when properties start charging people to camp on them. Road maintenance upkeep costs for property access are one thing they'll usually chuck out as wanting from property owners, due to an increase in traffic on the roads to that location. I know of atleast one property I visit in NSW where you make a "donation" of a carton of beer to stay there, but a similar cost cash donation is just as welcomed also. The property owner told me how much the council wanted each year as road upkeep costs if he made it a legit campground, i can't recall the figure now but was shocked at how much the yearly fee was.
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Reply By: Top End Az - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:44

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:44
I'm a government employee and the constant barrage of Stay Safe, Be Safe, Have a Safe weekend is unbelievable. More so, when it comes to people making a buck, the message is "in the interest of public safety", but under ridden by the fact that the government doesn't like people making a dollar unless they can get a slice of the action whether it be feès, charges or tax.
I preferred the 80's when you could chuck your swag in the back and go off and do what you wanted as long as you weren't bothering anyone.
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 09:38

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 09:38
I still use "Have a good weekend"!!!! I like you subtle dig at the "safe" not "good" times ahead. Seems like fun, enjoyable, good and happy are not allowed.

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Reply By: Member - nick b - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:50

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:50
Good morning Baz Bureaucracy Gone Mad , spot on .

but who's to blame ??? council , lawyers or the people who need to blame some one for there own stupidity !!!

Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 11:41

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 11:41
You got it in one Nick.
For those who still have doubts about "why it is so" (sorry Prof J.S-M.) have a look in a mirror. Many years ago, I had a dealership that supplied a certain brand of off road vehicles. One of our customers was the president (CEO?) of a shire just to the north of Perth. Within the boundries of this shire was a recreational area, mainly sand dunes, that was the favourite playground for trail bikes, buggies and ATVs. Many of the weekend warriors that used this area would get real cranky when the shire ranger would show up and enforce the requirement that a helmet and suitable footwear was to worn as a minimum. Basically no riding gear, get your vehicle back on the ute or trailer.
The ranger was just being a spoil sport by enforcing this and some other riding laws.
All good until someone decided that the safe boundries of this area as set by the shire were just there to ruin his fun. So ignoring the rules he rode his trailbike over the edge of a wind blown dune and broke some vertibrae in his back.
The next thing you know this bloke and his legal team wanted several million in damages from the shire. It cost the shire many thousands of dollars to defend the action even though it was decided in their favour. The bloke from the shire told us that if the litigant had been successful they would have had no other choice than to fence off the dunes and surrounding area and totally ban it's use.
As the old saying goes, great fun until someone gets an eye poked out. Then it's lawyers at 10 paces.
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Reply By: AlanTH - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:53

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 08:53
There's been an ongoing never ending inquiry into camps and caravan parks, free camping and everything else to do with people trying to get out there and enjoy themselves for ages in WA.
One part involves councils requiring any property owner informing council if rellies want to park their van and sleep in it in their driveway for a few days before continuing their journey.
This will involve a council inspection of the site which if found unsuitable under some yet to be defined regulation, the aforementioned campers/vanners will be directed to the nearest official camping area or caravan park.
Nothing like an under employed official making work to look busy. Plus of course as lots of councils (and councillors) have interests (declared or otherwise) in van parks, there's a chance to make a bit more money.
Call me cynical but I smell a rat with lots of things councils get up to and with their history in WA of crookedness, it's understandable.
WALGA used to say in their never ending self promotion advertisements ..... "Local government, the most trusted form of government in Australia". Most mistrusted would be closer to the truth.
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Reply By: Member-Heather MG NSW - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 09:54

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 09:54
So true Baz. My sentiments too!

I read this earlier today as it applies to my local Council. Seems like a good excuse to gain extra dollars for Council revenue to me!

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir

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Reply By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 11:37

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 11:37
I hear you Baz

I have property in the same region and it is zoned for tourism so is allowed in principal with consent, I have had discussions with Town Planning at council about this and they have no issue with me putting in an application and even told me how they are pro tourism. The trouble is that the costs involved with compliance does not make it a viable option to allow it on my land.
You are basically jumping through the same hoops as if you were setting up a full commercial venture caravan park.
I suspect that Shoalhaven City Council are not alone with this mindset and that it is probably the typical stance of all councils.

Lawyers and politicians are a scourge on our society and common sense is heading the same way as the Dodo bird.
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Reply By: Kenell - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 11:46

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 11:46
As an avid bush camper I can feel the blood pressure rising due to such black and white positions. I think there are things that both landowners and visiting campers need to be aware of and manage. I can also see the potential for serious problems. The trouble as others have said is that commonsense isn't so common anymore.Paved access roads, concrete ablutions blocks, effluent drains, fresh water access, open fires brings caravan parks to mind - not the experience many want or need. I think ensuring campers don't set up dunnies near fresh water courses, properly managed waste water runoff, fireplaces etc and making sure the landowner has informed his liability insurer of the change in use of his property would be enough boxes for a regulator to tick off. Charge a fee for his visit - say $100. Draft up a basic "all care taken, no responsibility accepted" type doc - say another $300 and everyone is happy.

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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 12:12

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 12:12

Most of what you say is as you state, just common sense. A commodity getting more uncommon these days it would seem.

As far as getting an "all care, no responsibility" doco to fly in a court of law, good luck with that.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, as you like, there are certain "rights" for want of a better term, than cannot be signed away.

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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 12:56

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 12:56
I should have read your comment before I posted mine Kenell. Pretty much the same thoughts.
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Reply By: Bazooka - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 12:51

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 12:51
I can see both sides of the argument. Depends on the scale, the particular environment, the isolation, how much care the owner takes in monitoring and cleaning up etc. It's not difficult to imagine the furore if someone bought a block of land and allowed virtually unlimited camping without knowledge or due care wrt neighbour's rights to peace and quiet, traffic, fire risk, downstream effects on waterways, toiletry, animals etc etc. Open slather can be as bad as mind-numbing bureaucracy.

There's a compromise to hopefully be worked out but I don't blame authorities for taking an interest in the practice. Problem is common sense isn't quite as common as we all expect and hope it would be.
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:27

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:27
True, but this is on 100 acres and low key camping by all accounts, not a suburban block...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:44

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:44
Understand that Baz. The issue needs to be discussed - with a good dose of common sense as everyone agrees - if for no other reason than alerting lessors to their liabilities and responsibilities. Turning a blind eye is not the answer.
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Reply By: Member - Munji - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 13:00

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 13:00
What needs to happen is a change in federal law to protect genuine people from State law and the legal vultures acting on behalf of idiots who get hurt because of their own stupidity.
Federal Government needs to step in and make a ruling decision that protects genuine people acting in good faith.
Once this is addressed at that level then it will allow common sense to start being applied.
We have lost sight of what is Reasonable and Practicable.

That's my rant.

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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 13:08

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 13:08
That's only part of the problem Munji but yes something like the NZ adventure tourism laws (possibly coupled with a no-fault insurance scheme?) would be a good start.
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:28

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:28
Hey Munji

Happy to put my name to that rant as well - spot on!

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Reply By: Cruznoz - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 13:36

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 13:36
Don't go blaming the local councils. They are obliged to follow the relevant state legislation when it comes to setting up camp sites or camping in places that aren't registered camp sites. The state legislation needs to change to make it easer for people wanting to establish low cost camping on their own properties. The WA government is currently doing just that with a review to their Caravan and camping act. The Government recognises that the caravan and camping scene has changed in the 20 years that the act has been in place. One of their stated aims is to make it easier for people to establish a camp ground on their own property. Will they get the legislation right? Well that remains to be seen.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 14:24

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 14:24
Hi Baz,
The SMH article concludes: "State parliament is running an inquiry into the regulation of short-term holiday letting, which has not yet concluded." But who knows about these enquiries. They might be a good aspect of democracy if our parliaments bothered to actually inform the public that they have an opportunity for participation. Even the SMH could have published a link to the inquiry site. There is a bit of info here

The advent of online booking via sites like airbnb, Stayz, toucamp etc really blurs the line between public and private use of privately owned property and I think local govt is floundering around trying to come to grips with these new approaches. But they are applying old thinking (especially about traffic) and no doubt in some cases at least, have commercial operators of caravan parks and apartments putting pressure on to limit perceived competition. Local government frequently complains about how overburdened and underresourced it is - but then wants to regulate having family pull up a caravan in the driveway for a few nights!!!!! They probably want a say in housesitting arrangements too. Maybe they should learn to prioritise and tackle the really big issues first.



J and V
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:31

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:31
Hear, hear...

This is low key camping, not overly complicated, but somehow authorities seem to have a knack of making it complicated.

Cheers, Baz

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:48

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 15:48
I'm afraid that many of these controls and regulations come about as a result of some people pushing sensible boundaries too far. Another description for the "Nanny State" perhaps? There are many thing that Councils need to address.

In the instance of inviting persons onto your property for casual camping (or anything else for that matter) the landowner places himself at some risk of claims for personal injury incurred by the visitor. Public Risk insurance policies are a must and the simple little PR clause in his general policy may not cut the mustard.

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Reply By: Member - MARIC - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 23:14

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 23:14
Beat this one for a laugh.

I now a friend who on his semi rural block of 30 ac built a house shed etc as he is a bit of a handyman.
Then came along the local town planner and bought the block next door.
The funny thing is he never put in for a permit to build etc.
We are still waiting 3 years later when the town planner is going to wake up lol
It is only when you see mosquito land on your testicles that you find another way to solve problems without violence

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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 23:23

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 23:23
To run a "campground" of any type you have to go through all the the hoops and red tape. You also need to think of liability insurance and taxation implications. Laws limit the number of guests you can have staying (non paying guests) at a time, for how long, and per annum. Nothing has changed.

Websites that list these sorts of private camps take little responsibility for these legalities, and leave it up to the landholder.

These are the basics of the state regulations councils in New South Wales have to operate within New South Wales Planning Illegal Camping circular

Anyone can apply and submit a development application to their council for a primitive campground Primitive Campground regulations in New South Wales so long as they meet the criteria. There will be costs, and it is setting up a business so comes will all the responsibilities and requirements of running a business. The process won't be cheap, so it would never be viable if you only expect to have a few staying on your land from time to time, charging $5 -$10.

Queensland, following a couple of parliamentary enquiries, is more open to this type of development, and some councils are supportive. Someone has done this on a farm with a camping area for self contained campers, and the establishment costs were significant.

In Western Australia they tried to address this with the "Nature Based Camping" option, but the requirements are still too onerous to be viable unless you could guarantee a sufficient flow of customers year round to cover costs.


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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 06:27

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 06:27
Hi Motherhen,

Points are well noted, but it has gone over the top.

Munji summed it up nicely in his response above.

Cheers, Baz
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Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:17

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:17
The problem is deadbeats "pushing the boundaries" and making life difficult for others, and therefore for councils, who have to cope with the complaints.

Backpackers taking over beach carparks with campers and virtually living in them.
Campers leaving garbage everywhere, including unburied faeces and toilet paper strewn everywhere.

You only have to see what most truck bays look like nowadays to see what happens with virtually uncontrolled camping and ad-hoc stops and stays.

People buy properties, erect what amounts to little more than modern-day "gunyahs" and then start living in them full time, with nary any consideration of Health Laws. They even live in sea containers.

So, as a result, the Shire Councils have to be hard on any camping and living arrangements. To not do so, results in 3rd world camping and living conditions.

The Shire Councils are inundated with regular complaints about less-than satisfactory, or less-than-sanitary, camping and living arrangements - and often, even in towns!

As a result, they have to regularly inspect and enforce substantial numbers of By-Laws, Health Laws, Building Laws - and ensure that they don't get sued for failing in their duty to do so.

None of this comes cheap - and all the Laws we have, related to Health, Camping, Building, and living arrangements, are all directly of a result of people behaving badly - and lawyers seeing money-making opportunities, every chance they get.

Increasing numbers of people are adding to the problem. One time, you would be lucky to see a few campers - now they're everywhere. It seems nearly every second family has a camper trailer and they certainly nearly all have SUV's or 4WD's.

I don't know what the answer is - somewhere in the middle between the Nanny State, and a Free-For-All, I think.

Remember, we are all part of the problem, every time we feel the desire to camp out. It takes real effort to "leave no trace".

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:52

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:52
Hey Ron

Some very balanced comments, especially your last remark.

What I take issue at is this overwhelming need for authorities to protect us all the time.

And for sure, I get the joke, it is all about legal liability, but how did we ever let the potential for litigation encroach on our everyday lives to the extent it has?

For most of us when we are Out and About having fun we generally seem to get by quite well in determining safe areas to camp, whether it be on the Anne Beadell, the CSR, somewhere up in the Gulf, wherever.

And I suspect most of us aren’t looking around to see whom we can blame and sue if the tree we camp under drops a branch in the middle of the night – in fact most of us probably wouldn’t camp under it.

Common sense at work, I guess…

So when it comes to determining whether it is safe to camp at the campsite discussed in this article, or others that are offering similar, I suspect most of us can do our own due diligence and if it looks unsafe or “dodgy” we won’t stay there.

I’m betting that most people that offer this style of camping on their properties are not doing it on a wholesale basis and that it is mostly low key – perfect, over the years on EO that is what many have called for, especially given many (most) are not willing to pay the caravan park owner the true cost of parking a van or camping on his plot of land.

As for insurance liability, that is something for the property owner to consider.
But for me, if I thought there was a risk I would be needing to call in the compensation lawyers for a mishap caused on the property I would avoid the risk by not staying there, much the same way I’ve exercised risk management everywhere else I camp.

This is pocket money stuff for the owners, generally not a full on business that will generate a return sufficient to pay the price of compliance.

I am behind this type of low key offering as it opens the opportunity for a greater variety of camping, especially on Australia’s East Coast where you are limited to either National Parks or Caravan Parks…

Cheers, Baz
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 11:08

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 11:08

While I agree wholeheartedly with the general concept of "common sense" that we should (but often don't) apply, Maybe look at this from a slightly different angle.

You say "What I take issue at is this overwhelming need for authorities to protect us all the time"

Have you considered that just maybe there is also a significant component of protecting themselves from us.

Just a thought (;=))

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