NGOs, who needs them?


With all the talk and questions regarding NGOs recently, shouldn’t we be asking why we have NGOs at all?
Why the proliferation of them? Why do Governments automatically turn to them? What can NGOs achieve that Government and private enterprise can’t?
The only answer I can come up with is that they allow governments to divest themselves of responsibility, make the inevitable failings when dealing with difficult social issues, someone else’s responsibility.
Do they save us money? In Alice we have a plethora of NGOs, many declaring themselves to be Aboriginal organisations of one kind or another. Many of these organisations compete directly against private industry for government contracts, declaring themselves to be operating fairly and on a level playing field with private business But are they?
What private business has all its overheads paid before they even start work? Government grant funding that covers the cost of the workshop, office, staff, equipment and motor pool all before they even win a contract.
The result is that every contract undertaken by these organisations costs treasury the price of the contract, plus the grant funding, plus the additional bonus for any employee who declares Aboriginal ancestry!
But wait! There’s an even bigger cost. Because private companies that were offering competition and keeping prices down fall by the wayside, their employees go onto the dole queues, and the NGOs? Well they get to inflate their prices as competition reduces.
Given that no-one actually owns the NGO, governance if it exists at all is often poor, there is no incentive to operate profitably, they become fat, lazy and incompetent.
Ring any bells for you? Recognise some local NGOs that are already in this place or on their way to it? The result is that Government pays more and more simply to produce more and more inefficiency, rorts and outright cons!
At the same time government is shrinking the private sector they are sworn to uphold and promote. Government continues to fund NGOs because they are blinded by the one thing NGOs are good at: Propaganda. Talking the talk, creating the impression of being warm, caring, concerned organisations and of course, not callously trying to extract a profit like their free enterprise competition.
Governments love to gain brownie points by being associated with them, it helps tick the warm fuzzy compliance boxes that are cleverly imbedded in every level of bureaucracy.
They pander to these organisations with favours and secret deals on contracts in a vain hope that these organisations will help them achieve a popular outcome without too much effort and because they are too short sighted and stupid to realise they are shooting themselves in the foot.
A Logical extension of the NGO pandering scenario suggest that if we are to continue in this manner pretty soon the only people who can gain a job, a house, health care or pretty well anything at all will be those associated with these organisations! Complete Socialist squalor!
No private industry, but lots of stuffy, lazy bunch of bludging organisations living entirely of the taxpayers. ERR, what taxpayers? Never mind, I’m sure the rest of the world will come to our aid and pay the bills, won’t they?


  1. One NGO to my mind is Tangentyere Council. They receive more funding than Alice Springs Town Council and they tender for many government projects and seem to get preferential support.
    Appears to be a number of rebranded identities that come under the home base of Tangentyere council. All these government tenders that receive special consideration to government funded identities over private enterprise.
    There will be a backlash if more NGOs are awarded tenders over private enterprise.
    Private enterprise that have fulfilled their contacts for over 15 years. Rumours are running about that NGOs have already been informed they have a government guarantee they will be awarded tenders that are not released yet.

  2. Cannot believe this comment has scared so many. Alice Springs needs the support of each one of us if we are going to grow and depend on private enterprise to boost our economy.
    Not even a word from those in NGO sections. Why? Simple. They all know what Steve says is correct. Are we shutting down conversation by stating the truth?

  3. NGO’s are QANGOs.
    Sir Humphrey: “The Official Secrets Act isn’t to protect secrets – it’s to protect officials.”

  4. “The only answer I can come up with is that they allow governments to divest themselves of responsibility, make the inevitable failings when dealing with difficult social issues, someone else’s responsibility”.
    You got that right, Steve.
    And this: “Given that no-one actually owns the NGO, governance if it exists at all is often poor, there is no incentive to operate profitably, they become fat, lazy and incompetent.”
    This is actually happening nationally. And has been for quite a few years.
    You can throw in, “people end up taking ownership of jobs” and in many cases, “the organisations and property themselves”! With very little fear of dismissal or even censorship.
    There are many instances of this behaviour. Due in part to political correctness.
    Quote: “Over the last 10 years, 1894 defunct corporations or corporations that are no longer operating have been deregistered.” I got this information from ORIC a couple of years back.
    Once the initial funding ran out, many initiatives, projects and organisations were / are virtually abandoned. “Self determination” a flawed concept and failed experiment.
    ORIC has to take some responsibility for this continuing situation.
    I think I’ve covered these issues on my website.
    And Janet has raised some good points.

  5. Thanks Arthur. There are some tenders coming up for government maintenance contracts and before they are even on paper the talk is clear they are being written to ensure a NGO is going to win it.
    Who in the elected members has set this cart in progress? Or don’t the elected members know?

  6. Steve Brown, the picture you have painted of the NGO sector tells me that you have not properly considered the function of NGOs in Australia and overseas.
    If Governments and private enterprise could adequately address the magnitude of social, political and environmental issues impacting on all our lands and oceans, NGOs might never have happened.
    The Christian missions led the movement in most colonised countries, followed by small and larger organisations led by a range of identified needs.
    Issues include the lack of clean water supplies, poverty, discrimination, pollution, no independent media, destruction of wetlands, rain forests, old growth forests, ocean reefs, disease, slavery, abuse of women and children, asylum seekers, the destructive influence of alcohol and other drugs, food security, marginalised and stigmatised groups, environmentally and socially irresponsible business practices, secretive and unjust Governments, support after natural disasters, homelessness, war trauma, slavery, lack of freedom to vote or demonstrate, refugees, neglected children, abuse of homosexuals, lack of affordable housing, threatened and endangered species, cruelty to animals etc. 
    NGOs can provide a cost effective channel for consulation on anything from the construction of roads to the aged pension, they promote a richer public debate by providing information and opinions that would otherwise not be heard, they help keep government and businesses accountable. NGOs advocate for systemic change from a position of expertise. They also are accountable to a board of management and their consumers and funding sources, often transparent to a much greater degree than Governments or private corporations. 
    To conclude, many who work in this sector are earning average wages or are volunteers unless you head up World Vision. The sector can attract those who are passionate about the cause. Just as is the case in Government and private enterprise, the organisations can implode at times through poor work practices, incompetent leadership and corruption.
    In Central Australia, those in all sectors of work need to respect the efforts of each other and put energy into successful collaborations and shared visions to address the social, environmental and political issues impacting on our lives here. 

  7. NGOs have a place but it in recent times some NGOs have been recieving funding and not producing positive outcomes and many have failed those they have been paid to help. They have in their desire to ensure funding continue to ensure social problems grow and issues remain. Homelessness, drug and alcohol issues rise. Health issues escalate. I have seen little or no results that have changes for the positive in lives.
    The shires are a disgrace. And they are ruled not by government but by land councils. Again monies thrown at those who do not want change. It’s all good intentions until some just want the money for doing nothing. Look at the human face of suffering and tell me again why.


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