Hulin blasts city budget 'mumbo jumbo'

Councillor Peter Hulin has criticised the budget's inclusion of numerous “motherhood statements” — attractive but largely meaningless  phrases — about Warrnambool’s prospects for financial and social growth.

Councillor Peter Hulin has criticised the budget's inclusion of numerous “motherhood statements” — attractive but largely meaningless phrases — about Warrnambool’s prospects for financial and social growth.

SWEEPING statements in an updated Warrnambool City Council report have been lambasted by Cr Peter Hulin, who says some in local government are addicted to mumbo jumbo.

The colourful 2013-17 Council Plan has been criticised by Cr Hulin for the inclusion of numerous “motherhood statements” — attractive but largely meaningless  phrases — about Warrnambool’s prospects for financial and social growth.

But Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said the document was meant to be generalised and work in conjunction with each financial year’s draft budget, which provided specific initiatives.

Cr Hulin said ratepayers wanted reports in plain English and were tired of Yes Minister-style long-winded sentences.

“There’s a lot of cute words, a lot of mumbo jumbo but in the end there’s no real action from this report,” Cr Hulin said.

“Take a look at a lot of other council reports and you’ll see the same thing.

“They hide behind these sweeping statements, slap weasel words all over the page and call it a report.”

The 24-page report was included in this week’s council agenda and featured an analysis of ways to make Warrnambool a “leading regional city, a sustainable city, a liveable city and a city of growth.”

Messages from Cr Neoh and council chief executive Bruce Anson are included in the report along with a mission statement, an explanation of the city’s values along with a breakdown of the municipality’s strategic indicators.

Cr Hulin singled out several phrases during this week’s council meeting including: “implement processes to ensure (the) council’s research, partnerships and advocacy activities maximise grant funding opportunities to achieve maximum outcomes for the Warrnambool community.”

“I mean, what the hell does that mean in practice?” Cr Hulin said.

“I’m sure the people writing know it means nothing, but the council puts it out there to make it look like they’re doing something.

“Another thing is the green print they keep using is hardly readable. If you’ve got problems with your eyes, you can hardly make out the words.”

The mayor said the five-year plan contained some strong objectives for Warrnambool and added it was an important document for the council.

“Perhaps some of the councillors hadn’t read the budget or drawn the link between the budget and the council plan,” Cr Neoh said.

“Obviously there’s general statements in the report because it’s meant to be a broad strategy. The draft budget itself has the details, hundreds of them, which outline specifically what the council wants to do and how we want to achieve it.”

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