Fair and equitable seems to have many meanings

Letters to the editor

Again, we have an example of magic number-juggling by the government to explain the distribution of transport projects under the Urban Congestion Fund (“Claimed Urban Congestion Funds rorts partially explained, Wyong Regional Chronicle 184).

According to Lucy Wicks, an allocation of $99M to Robertson electorate and $6M to Dobell electorate is an equitable distribution of resources, where an unbiased observer might think that promising 16 times as much funding to a marginal electorate as to an Opposition electorate smacks a little of the same thinking as went into the sports rorts affair.

Unfortunately, there are no coloured spreadsheets involved here, so we must all make up our own minds as to whom we trust and, to do that, we need an impartial explanation.

This question of “fair” and “equitable” in budget allocations is also obviously exercising the minds of our councillors (“Fair spread of spending across all five wards will be a focus”, edition 184).

It is good to see deep thought being applied to the important distinction being drawn here, otherwise, a ratepayer might conclude that councillors don’t have much to absorb their time, if semantic debate is their main preoccupation, and one wonders how many are sufficiently qualified in the English language to contribute meaningfully to such a debate.

The claim by Councillor Vincent that Gosford West is getting a disproportionate allocation of funds, because there are “nine voting councillors in the Gosford area”, seems geographically puzzling as well, given that nine councillors come from the Budgewoi, Entrance and Terrigal areas, showing that magicking with numbers is not solely a federal prerogative.

In the same vein, Councillor Best cannot see that “a regional library at Gosford was going to benefit his ward”, whereas, by definition, a regional project must benefit all wards to qualify as such, anything else would be an oxymoron.

In the spirit of grammatical accuracy that seems so important to councillors, does he mean that a library at Gosford will serve the region inequitably or does he mean that a regional library is a pointless exercise and isn’t needed anywhere?

I should be in agreement with him on both points but, if the latter, I am with him all the way and hope that he makes an issue of this when the next budget is being prepared.

On the other hand, Councillor Vincent can see that an Entrance breakwater is a regional project, where someone else might ask what benefit this is going to be to Mangrove or Spencer.

It’s fortunate that he, at least according to his own reckoning, can explain to us the meaning of “equitable”.

Finally, we have our Mayor promoting “a new process for developing … strategies and policies” (“New processes for developing council’s strategies and policies”, edition 184) but in what way is not clear.

I have three degrees but, on struggling through the report of the council debate with an aspirin and a wet towel, I was no wiser at the end than I was at the beginning.

I am the last person to denigrate policies and strategies, but the grandiloquent language and confusions of terms make this sound like one of the most time-wasting exercises imaginable.

The tip-off here is the conclusion that council will need a new committee to deal with the matter, as this a sure sign that nobody knows what is meant by the proposal, so, perhaps, it should be referred to the Woy Woy Philosophical Society for explication.

Email, Mar 16
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy