Image provided by author.
3 May 2023
The biggest issue facing Mitcham Council is the anticipated rate increase, with options ranging from 7.8 per cent to 10 per cent. With many ratepayers struggling with mortgage repayments, and fixed-income retirees facing a hike in their power and grocery bills, that extra couple of hundred dollars going to council rates will be very painful.
In 2021, in what seems like another economic world, the Mitcham Council in South Australia declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. This council has a history of Woke initiatives, much to the chagrin of its mostly conservative ratepayers. Its attempt to change the date of Australia Day (thwarted) and to withdraw support for the community Christmas Carols (‘too Christian’), are well known. The frustration of the community toward its decision to name the new Blackwood Library with an Indigenous label completely escapes them.
Of course, having declared a climate emergency, immediate action was required to save the planet. One of those actions was the establishment of free, slow EV charging stations using council money. The one at Blackwood cost $30,000 to set up. The other at council HQ services mostly for the council’s new EVs, and not ‘primarily for people visiting the area’.
The Blackwood charging station is closed. The sign says ‘out of order’, but the Mayor says it will be ‘decommissioned as [it is] not fit for purpose’. It was never fit for purpose. Plugged into the SA grid, it relied on gas and Vic brown coal for reliable, continuous electricity.
It was rarely used, at the rate of about one car for about 1.5 hours per day. I calculated earlier that this cost ratepayers close to $40 for a charge they would have paid $3.50 for at home. That was based on a three-year lifespan. If we instead take into account its two-year lifespan, that cost per charge is now edging closer to $50 per charge.
But it’s not a failure. ‘We believe the chargers have been a success!’ says the Mayor. Ratepayers, beware of so-called successes, and God help us if we have any failures in the Mitcham Council.
The South Australian state government had a statewide plan for fast, user pays chargers at about the same time Mitcham Council was considering their own half-baked campaign. Perhaps the council could have waited a bit. That state plan has now come to fruition, and fast chargers will be set up just a couple of hundred meters from the rarely used, slow, just two years old, now obsolete council chargers.
The Mayor now says the council chargers were all about the commercial rate-payers, by attracting more business for them. Nonsense. In my view, there was never any likely business benefit.
I believe it was always about the ideology of climate change, not business benefit, no matter how it is being spun now.
The Mayor says that the chargers have done their job, increasing EV take-up, and so on. Again, there is no evidence for this; perhaps the council ought to leave the issues of EV take-up to the huge international manufacturers and commercial providers…?
This experiment in EVs has been an abject disaster, by every possible measure, and the Mayor and the council would gain more respect by admitting it, rather than continuing to spin it as a success.
The council is now grappling with a 7.8 per cent to 10 per cent rates increase. The $30,000 or so wasted on the Blackwood EV station, not to mention a much larger amount down at council HQ, must look pretty handy right now.