Time for governments to rethink their strategies
We certainly now live in the age of "grants". It seems that nothing ever happens today unless there's a grant of some sort involved. Last week I heard of another grant that our Council secured to extend the Regional Gallery, $4 million plus would you believe? Before that I heard Council had secured $25,000 (I think) to run a homosexual festival in Orange next year. Then there's road grants to repair local roads and extend a distributor road, a grant to do something in the Ploughman's wetland area, a grant to build a public toilet somewhere, and I think we've applied for a grant to trim trees around Orange, and so it goes on.
To be honest, I'm quite sick of it. Whatever happened to the days when we got things done, simply because they made good sense and we just went about making them happen despite any hurdles?
Grants like this are the way most things are done these days and I guess there's not much use in me trying to make too much of an issue about that. There is however, a type of grant that I really do think government's need to think about.
It's those grants or funding opportunities that are supposed to help people who are struggling for one reason or another, or the ones that are supposed to improve things in some way. We've all heard of the government funding schemes that are designed to help farmers who are on their knees, or small business owners who are struggling to keep their doors open and a new one where they are offering regional publishers like me grant money "to improve the quality of local journalism".
I can't say it any more respectfully that this, those who dreamed up these schemes must live on another planet because their methodology is at best flawed, and at worst simply stupid.
Space doesn't allow too much elaboration, but I think I can make the point in a few words.
They offer farmers who haven't a penny to bless themselves loan arrangements when they need a handout. How can enabling a farmer simply to take on more debt be helpful?
One of the incentives they offer battling small business owners is up to $10,000 towards employing someone on a full wage for a year. How is that going to help an employer who simply can't afford the balance of the wage (up to say $40,000) in the first place. The only employer likely to take this up is one who is not in trouble to start with, or who is going to employ someone anyway and if the government is silly enough to pay them, they'll take it.
With the Regional Publishers grant scheme, they're offering bucket loads of money but when I looked at it, I discovered you can use the money for a number of things but one thing you can't spend it on was staff or wages. It's a well-known fact that the quality of journalism is suffering mainly because fewer journalists are now expected to cover the ground. How you improve journalism without including journalists in the equation is beyond me.
I say it's time for Governments to re-think some of their strategies, what do you say?