Too Much “Protection” from Australian Governments

When we visited Mountain View for an interview with Google, I was surprised to see that the Californian government has a surprisingly "user take responsibility for yourself" type of attitude. Examples in the railway system:

Example in the Santa Cruz mountains: winding mountain roads have a cliff with a fatal drop on one side, but no fence or barrier. I had to be brave to drive up Black Road, which runs down from Skyline Boulevard to Lexington Reservior.

I expected that the home of the law suit would take a very conservative view of safety of the citizen.

Australia, on the other hand, has been consumed by a need felt by governments to protect their citizens from themselves. Examples:

Who is Protecting Whom?

Here is the Google Maps reference showing the location of the stepping stones.

Council barrier

The Council, I am sure, will say that they erected this barrier to protect their citizens from the danger of slipping on the stepping stones.

muddy slope But if you stand there for fifteen minutes, you will see a number of people crossing these stepping stones, then walking up the slippery muddy slope, shown here.

I have watched a mother carry her baby in her arms down this precarious slope, while her husband balanced the push chair over his head. I see many elderly people climb up the steps, then squeeze through the railings at the top.

people crossing So many people cross the River here every day. None I have spoken with are satisfied with the Council erecting this barrier. The alternative walk is a very long deviation via Mona Street, which a large number of people are not prepared to take.

It would be an interesting exercise to count the number of people who cross here every day. I would be surprised if it did not frequently exceed fifty people a day.

“It's their fault”

illegible sign

The Council's response would be, “It's their fault, endangering themselves like that. The warning signs and the barrier clearly show the danger.”

However, the danger is not so much the stepping stones; the danger is more from the barrier placed there by the Council.

Who is Protecting Whom?

Is Auburn Council protecting its citizens? Or is it only interested in protecting itself from a lawsuit?

What do you think?

Nick Urbanik
20 September 2006