Monday, September 19, 2011

What now that the Maintenance Tsunami has washed over?

... leaving this, and at least another,  estate DH knows about,  repainted twice (for shoddy work the first time) ... despite being made of treated synthetic planking which should never have been painted in the first place but will now have to be painted for evermore. .

An ex-employee of Spotless during the stimulus tsunami tells DH that Spotless was in chaos at the time, being totally unprepared for the deluge. DH had 3 different very young project managers within a couple of months, each one shocked at the work done by the previous mob. And HNSW wanted to redo her bathroom on inspection, but DH had had enough, would rather live with a bit of shoddiness than have the whole place turned upside down by a new set of contractors and their hurriedly conscripted and untrained rellos ...

OK, enough negativity, but it's been a long time between sprays. And always remember the buck stops with the government of the day. There's a lot of good people in HNSW, doing what they can with the budgets and priorities allocated to them.

And in DH's experience the contractors were all really nice, and many did excellent work. Economists will be arguing forever about whether the stimulus package's "Just do it, never mind the quality" philosophy saved the nation. It's a pity that there wasn't enough time to scope the work properly.

And now, dear Gd,  we have a Liberal Government, not noted for their philosophy of mercy towards suspected unproductive swill.

So what's happening with maintenance today?

Budgets are increasingly restricted. What money there is will be diverted to major infrastructure projects, e.g. replacing deteriorating plumbing , sewage, ageing gas lines. Handovers to Community Housing to continue apace of course. The PAS (Property Assessment Surveys) are things of the past. If it ain't an emergency and it's not part of planned maintenance, which will happen who knows when, DH opines that you should not waste your time ringing the HNSW Call Centre 1300 Housing as there is nothing much left in the maintenance kitty.

The terribly nice people there (and it is with pleasure that DH reports that the call centre team has increased in size, and waiting times are down), will tell you the same thing at great and somewhat obscurantist length and then offer to pass your request onto your local office. DH is not saying a word about what is likely to happen then. But, hey, try your luck.

What are the Liberals up to?

Meanwhile the Liberals in their wisdom, or perhaps in their desire to be seen to be different, bold and decisive, have decided to to decisively hack the hell into HNSW and split it between two Departments: Family and Community Services under the pleasant though clearly lightweight Pru Goward, while Assets is moving to the Dept of Finance and Services, under the Minister known as Greg Pearce.  This is to happen in October and no-one has the slightest clue how it will play out. Pru Goward's keynote speech at the Shelter Conference  may give us some clues. If memory serves, she believes in motherhood, looking after the genuinely weak, and she encourages our (underfunded) NGO's to be really creative and think up something quick because certainly no ideas were forthcoming from her.

How this split into two can possibly be a good idea is anyone's guess. Think of the working parties to delineate the demarcations that are bound to spring up. Think of all the solutions that happen through chance meetings in corridors and by coffee machines that can't happen when the two arms of an organisation are compartmentalised and geographicallly separated. And, of course, the stationary costs...

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