Why reports on Australia's kangaroos made California's Governor hopping mad

Struggling state shocked to discover it produces dozens of bizarre research papers that no one reads

Los Angeles

A story of tax, spending and kangaroos is at the centre of the latest unlikely effort to make California's cash-strapped government more efficient.

In a bizarre but headline-grabbing move, Jerry Brown, the Governor of America's most populous state, has launched a vigorous attack on the surreal level of interest that his civil servants are required to take in Australia's national animal. For as long as anyone can remember, officials in California's Department of Fish and Game have been required to supply law-makers with a carefully compiled annual report on the Antipodean kangaroo harvest.

The lengthy document, which costs an undisclosed amount to produce, was introduced decades ago at the behest of the animal rights lobby. Its stated purpose is to ensure that the small quantity of kangaroo-skin shoes and handbags that find their way into the state's fashion boutiques come from a properly sustainable source.

Last week, Mr Brown, a Democrat, declared it a symbol of the Kafkaesque bureaucracy that is hobbling his administration. A "crocodile report" was among a staggering 715 similarly useless reports which are compiled by civil servants on a regular basis, and are now being scrapped in the hope of reducing the state's gaping budget deficit, which is currently running at $9bn (£5.6bn) a year. "It wastes a lot of time and money to write, track and file all these reports," Mr Brown declared.

The list of paperwork the Governor proposes to abolish has provided a sobering insight into the bureaucratic excess which, despite endless soul-searching about America's national debt, continues to hobble every tier of government.

In recent years, under Mr Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, California has sacked thousands of teachers and almost doubled tuition fees at its universities in a fruitless effort to balance its budget without raising taxes. Yet despite the belt tightening, government employees in the state capital, Sacramento, have quietly carried on churning out ream after ream of apparently pointless paperwork.

Every month, for example, a report on the official response to the Loma Prieta earthquake lands with a thud on the desks of state politicians. For what exact purpose, no one can tell: the earthquake happened in 1989. A "feasibility study on the establishment of a California State Redwood logging museum in north-western California" was commissioned in 1990. More than 20 years later, it is still being published. But of the museum, there is no sign.

The state's financial crisis has its roots in laws that mean tax rises must be approved by 60 per cent of politicians – a majority that neither major party is ever likely to achieve. It was exacerbated by the 2008 housing crash, which decimated income from property tax, the mainstay of the state's finances.

California's overall debt is now around $40bn and is set to rise to $50bn by 2013. The Governor was unable to say exactly how much his latest exercise in cost-cutting would save.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure Architect

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Infrastructure Architect is ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn