Munich Ticks

Filed in Archive, Blog by on July 20, 2013 0 Comments


Photo from ABC TV’s 7.30 Victoria, 13 July 2012

Yallourn’s flooded coal mine is an excellent example of the bureaucrat’s best friend: Munich Ticks.  Put simply: you tick a series of boxes, wave the piece of paper triumphantly in front of the media, and smile all the way to the upcoming disaster.

Former British PM Neville Chamberlain pioneered this approach in 1938. After having a chin-wag with his new best mate Adolf Hitler, Neville famously jumped off his return flight from Munich waving a bit of paper in front of the media that he triumphantly declared meant “Peace in our time”. Just don’t mention the World War that followed for the next six years.

In 2006, the then Premier of Victoria insisted the most recent safety audit of a rail crossing near Trawalla (west of Ballarat), where two people had just been killed in a crash, had “ticked all the boxes”. This prompted me to add “Munich Ticks” to the Urban Dictionary. A fun thing to do if you have a little time of your hands and like making up words.

There have been some great examples of Munich Ticks since then.  In 2007 there were 11 people killed at a rail crossing near Kerang. The same Premier offered the same ‘’ticked the boxes” excuse.

Then the federal government’s national insulation scheme went up in electrical flames. Nice idea but plagued by Munich Ticks.

More recently the decision to encourage private providers of TAFE courses has led to a new way of teaching vocational education: ‘tick and flick’. You tick the boxes then give the student the flick with a worthless bit of paper.

Which just goes to show how adaptable Munich Ticks can be. Perhaps you can use them at home next time a family member presents you with a list? Or if that crappy appliance you bought with a one-year warranty broke down after 366 days? Perhaps you are planning an unplanned pregnancy? Munich ticks don’t discriminate.

The hardest thing for an onlooker to grasp about the flooded Yallourn mine is that the whole area, including the river drainage, was carefully engineered to avoid the very catastrophe that has happened.  So who approved the engineering?

Somewhere in the bottom of a bureaucrat’s filling cabinet are the Munich Ticks which can answer this question. It would have been destroyed after the last change of government except the shredder, which had apparently passed its operational audit, mysteriously broke down.


If you have examples of Munich Ticks in your life, feel free to use the comments below.

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