Gone are the days when the local council dropped you a note in the mailbox, advising of its twice-yearly, free hard-rubbish collection.
Gone are the days when people put the belongings they didn't want anymore onto the nature strip so other residents could take stuff before the council came to truck away the rest.
How many of us have found treasures on the side of the road that are still with us? How many local residents, pensioners and students have been able to furnish their places through this free "community service"?
Unfortunately that's all now a thing of the past.
Since the enthusiastic adoption of mean-spirited neo-liberalism by the Maribyrnong council, residents are entitled to only one free hard-rubbish collection per year; and even that comes with strings attached.
Once the council decided to outsource its hard rubbish collection through engaging private operators (who of course want to make a profit), new punitive rules and regulations were introduced to support these private businesses.
People caught in the act of scavenging (taking hard rubbish from the side of the road) can be lumped with a $500 on-the-spot fine. And believe it or not, on its website, Maribyrnong council even encourages people to note down details of an "offender" to report to the council!
If that wasn't bad enough, the rules and regulations have tightened even more. It is now prohibited to put your hard rubbish onto the nature strip. Instead it has to be placed inside your property, to avoid the "problem" of scavenging, deterring the community from re-using, recycling and sharing its resources!
To add insult to injury the council also asks residents to put a sticker on their hard rubbish advising others that adding to this pile is prohibited!
In other words the council has criminalised helping your neighbour by letting them add to your rubbish collection — they could now be prosecuted for trespassing on private land!
Its time Maribyrnong council stopped its love affair with business to the detriment of a caring and sharing community.
That's why we call on the council to stop further outsourcing and to bring services back into public hands; including our much needed and beloved twice-yearly free hard-rubbish collections, on the side of the road for everybody to share without the threat of fines.
[Margarita Windisch is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Wattle Ward in the November 29 Maribyrnong council elections.]