They say writing letters to the editor of the local paper is a sure sign of the onset of senility, along with talking to yourself and playing bingo or lawn bowls. However, I just couldn’t help myself after today’s experience with the Northern Territory’s pool fencing regulatory regime. Writing the letter is almost certainly an utterly pointless exercise (like blogging), but at least it gets it all off my chest:
I’ve been reading with increasing bemusement accounts of the problems Darwin residents are experiencing with the Martin Labor government’s new pool fencing regime. I couldn’t believe that bureaucracy could be quite so brainless and bloody-minded as people have suggested. However, today we had our final pool fence inspection after we had spent rather a lot of money on complying (or so we thought) with the requirements as advised by the original government inspector. I discovered that the reality is even worse.
Our pool fence was failed on 3 grounds. First, a dome-shaped Telstra telephone switch box supposedly provides a foothold for an ingenious toddler to scale our fence and throw itself lemming-like into the pool. This is despite the fact that our fencing contractor had previously phoned the Pool Fencing Authority, given the measurements of the offending structure and been advised that it was no problem.
Secondly, the pool inspector discovered a tree stump in the front garden adjacent to the fence, that needs to be removed or ground down. No mention of this was made in the initial inspection report.
Thirdly, a bar area near the pool enclosure has a counter top which apparently breaches the regulations. It should be either at least 1.3 metres above the ground or 1.3 metres away from the fence horizontally. Instead it’s only 1.1 metres high and 1.1 metres away from the fence. Presumably the geniuses who devised these regulations are concerned to safeguard a hypothetical superhuman toddler who can climb a 1.1. metre bar, balance precariously on a narrow shelf, throw itself 1.1 metres sideways through the air, grasp the top of the pool fence, maintain a grip despite crashing face-first into the fence, hoist itself up and over the fence, and then plummet into the pool.
Apart from the obvious near-impossibility of such a feat for any but the most gifted junior member of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, the regulations blithely ignore the fact that the paved area adjacent to our pool area contains numerous outdoor chairs and tables (like nearly every other garden in Darwin). Any child advanced enough to figure out and perform the athletic feats described above would be far more likely to go and get a chair, stand on it and open the “child-proof” gate latch to get entry to the pool area. Does Clare Martin intend banning chairs and tables in pool owners’ gardens? Maybe I shouldn’t have asked.
I understand these regulations are currently being reviewed. Hopefully the government will belatedly see commonsense and simply scrap the new rules entirely. Otherwise Mark Read will be offering very short odds indeed on NT Labor being a one term government.