These days more than ever we’re encouraged to call out bad behaviour to an appropriate authority, and we all agree that’s a good thing. But when the appropriate authority is also the bad behaver, that’s called “speaking truth to power” and most people won’t go there for fear of the possible consequences.

Whilst this approach makes sense for the individual in the short-term, it doesn’t address the problem and merely emboldens the bad behaviour to get worse, so all constituents suffer in the long run.

Call me naïve (Sir Humphrey might say “courageous”) but I don’t believe our South Gippsland Shire people are so petty as to target individuals who dare to respectfully point out their failings. If they are, then my card is probably marked already! So here goes.
As you’ll read elsewhere in this edition, the shire and state government launched the Great Southern Rail Trail Extension Project last week at the Loch Railway Siding. They were lucky that the gate was open for them to park their numerous vehicles and power-dressed people on the manicured lawns of the Loch Market site because nobody had got around to even letting the landholder know – let alone seek their permission!

When I appraised the shire CEO and the event organiser of this fact afterwards, a perfunctory apology was offered. I then suggested that a donation to the service club involved might be appropriate recompense for this oversight, and their use of the facility, and the response was: “We couldn’t do that. You’d have to apply for a grant. Our sincere apology should be enough.” And they walked away!
To say I was gob-smacked by the arrogance thus exhibited is something of an under-statement! The SGSC is quick to promote its community engagement credentials but in this case such a quality was conspicuously lacking. Could they be so out of touch that they really didn’t know that a prominent service club has leased and managed this site for community benefit for over 20 years? Of course, if we had shire councillors instead of remote administrators, this knowledge would be at the fingertips of staff!

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered this entitled attitude in SGSC staff before (not while I was briefly on council) and I know many other residents have too. I was hopeful that the new CEO Kerryn Ellis would have brought a more humble culture to the organisation, but given that she was central to this incident and didn’t bat an eyelid, I won’t be holding my breath.

Frank Hirst, Ranceby.