AT LONG LAST the forecast is for fine weather and rising temperatures, which means no more posts for a few days. The Billabong will be back online toward the end of next week.
But before signing off, here is something to consider -- another little testament to the joys of bureaucracy and regulation: If you wish to hook dinner from rivers, creeks and salt water in Victoria, you will need a fishing licence. The cost is minimal, just $20-or-so for 12 months, but the hassle of making yourself legal to stand on a riverbank and dangle a bit of nylon filament in the water grows more annoying by the year. Time was when just about every bait shop and tackle emporium could issue a license. But these days, many have washed their hands of it. As a lady who runs a bait shop in Central Victoria told the Professor, issueing licences just isn't worth her trouble. She has to -- had to, actually, as she no longer does it -- file the paperwork, collect fees, fill out forms and remit payments to authorities.
In terms of time, effort and inconvenience, it is a headache. This all means a problem for the law-abiding angler -- a problem that grows worse as more agents drop out.
You don't need to be much smarter than a carp to know what comes next. The bureaucrats will complain that Victorians are flouting the law and push for higher fees to fund stepped-up enforcement efforts. We will soon see more inspectors prowling fishing spots. Meanwhile, the number of issueing agents will continue to shrink and the fees will see further increases, encouraging even more anglers to go without.
That's the way the system works. Bureaucracy flourishes, citizens are inconvenienced and law-breaking increases.
The day when we gut and fillet regulators instead of fish is something to pray for.