Moore / Penny pinching that crimps community spirit

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THE new, card-operated parking machines; convenience at last? Well, a great idea, but all downhill from my first exposure.

Michael Moore.
Michael Moore.
On the plus side, no more searching for those elusive coins nor trying to change a note to the chagrin of the local café or small-store staff. Or more desperately, hoping a fellow parker has a bag of change to swap for a note.

Or that generous soul: “I am about to leave and there is still another half hour on this ticket”. Life saver. Must remember to do the same for others. Builds community spirit.

An hour park just to race in to pick up a trinket for a birthday or pop across the road to a meeting?

Could take the risk the parking inspector doesn’t come along. After all, if caught it would make up for all the times without coins that I dodged a fine. Just another form of gambling!

New machines. No worries. Simply swipe the card. Better still, use “paywave”. What a time saver.

If only! Things are starting to go downhill; instead of sticking coins in the machine, we have to wait – for the person in front and the person in front of them and the other people down the line. They all take so long. What is wrong with them?

Made it. Machine examines the card. Needs a pin number as the “paywave” won’t work. Verify the number. Verify the card. Impatient people behind in a rush as well.

Wait! What? It wants the rego number of the car. What if I leave early and want to pass the paid-for ticket to someone else? Community spirit – down the gurgler. The space has been paid for. Bloody hell! This is just penny pinching. Penny pinching undermining community spirit. What is needed most? A tiny bit of additional revenue or community spirit? Parsimonious! Scrimping! Avaricious! Miserly!

Can it get worse?

Buttons up. Buttons down. Set the time. Last time, I hit the go button on the maximum. Sun on the machine’s screen prevented seeing properly. Who invents these things? Who approves them? Everyone has to use them. Well, almost everyone. Is it a plot to get us on to bikes, walking or public transport? Just might work. The time is finally set, but better add some to be sure. The credit card allows a few more dollars. Shame extra time can’t be passed on.

But wait. Now the numberplate has to be verified. Who knows the rego number of the car? Takes extra time. No wonder the long wait. Behind, the line grows even more impatient now and I’m already late for a meeting!

Philosophical question: who is verifying the number plate? This is an outsourced operation. This is not ACT government. It is a private company checking the number plate, recording the details.

Where else is the information going? Will it be with Facebook, Google or some other internet system? Targeted advertising next offering the best place to park next to the most suitable shop adjacent an appropriate café.

What happened to civil liberties? Is it Orwellian? Does the modern-day “1984” start with a credit card in the carpark? Number plates? Big brother is watching. Are there unpaid fines on the vehicle? Just the start. Information gathered, collated and circulated.

Finally. Card accepted. Approval. Printing will start. Any time now. At last, a ticket. Late for the meeting. The others at the meeting had to do the same. Colleagues might understand. Doubt it!

And I used to worry about not having enough coins!


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Michael Moore
Michael Moore is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and an independent minister for health in the Carnell government. He has been a political columnist with "CityNews" since 2006.

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