Justice is blind, but sometimes so are we

First, the admission.

The report by the Ombudsman SA on our front page was handed down on August 9, 2016.

Why has The Standard taken so long to write about it?

It is a reporter's job to know about everything going on in his or her patch, and this reporter was simply unaware.

The Ombudsman's reports are sometimes published online, but his office does not send them out to media outlets, nor advertise them, and the council – as one might imagine – did not promote the fact an investigation had taken place.

Perhaps the Ombudsman should be required by law to advertise his findings, the way that councils have to advertise road closures or major developments; but perhaps this reporter simply needs to keep a closer eye on one more website.

Either way, there are bigger issues at play.

Landowners cannot simply build whatever they want, wherever they want.

Many of you will not share this opinion; development laws can be a nuisance if you want to put up a pergola or a chook shed.

But those same laws protect you from neighbours who could otherwise build a factory, a wind farm, a piggery or whatever else you might fear straight over your back fence.

Just like the tax returns most of us will be filling out over the next few weeks, they are a burden, but they're there for a reason.

Tax pays for schools, roads, hospitals and defence forces; planning laws keep our backyards from being overshadowed, our views blocked and our air choked – or they're intended to, anyway.

Where they fail, it is because the fine detail of the law fails, and lawmakers can fix those.

That brings me to my final point.

Picture the figure of Justice: in one hand a set of scales, representing fairness; in the other, a sword, representing punishment.

Over her eyes, a blindfold, so that justice might be handed out evenly to all.

But we're all blindfolded whenever legal restrictions, procedures or confidentiality clauses prevent us from seeing justice done.

The Ombudsman might not advertise, and we have written about our councils before, but at least they're not our state ICAC, whose activities The Standard will never be able to report on for fear of a $150,000 fine.

There is a law a Liberal government should change, if one is elected next March.

Peri Strathearn


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