SMALL towns do it hard enough without worrying about this rubbish.
It has been revealed the Federal Government, through the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has ruled towns with a population below 200 are no longer towns.
That has come as a shock to residents of many thriving communities who know they live in a town - irrespective of what the government thinks.
And they all have one message for the government - mind your own business. It is another dumb thing for the government to get involved in, and reeks of a department seeking to justify its existence.
It has been going on for a few years, but has just come to light.
And more towns are set to lose their "town" status when 2011 census data is applied.
If you are reading this in the holiday centres of Seaspray, Coongulla or Port Welshpool, look around you. The government says all those streets and houses don't make up a town.
It is the sort of problem you have when the government decides on a magic number, and fails to take into account the organic and different natures of towns.
You can have a town of 150 people with a pub, school, hall, shops and CFA station which services a wide area. Or a town of 300 with half the amenities.
And then there are towns that have many homes, but they are weekenders, with the owners registering their primary residence in metro areas.
Erica, in the Gippsland hills, fits this description.
It reminds me of when one farmer receives drought assistance while the bloke next door doesn't. All because of a line drawn on a piece of paper in Canberra.
The ABS doesn't even have a name to call those centres with populations below 200 people.
"Those localities merge into rural and farming populations," an ABS spokeswoman said.
It has been suggested they could be called villages, hamlets or boroughs.
But until Australians start to wear lederhosen and drink beer from tankards, those names ain't going to catch on.
The ABS doesn't appear to realise a town is what you want it to be -- irrespective of size.
For instance, Australians refer to a night on the town, whether that be at a restaurant on the 88th floor of a city skyscraper, or the front bar of the Sea Lake Hotel.
What do many say when they are heading into Melbourne's CBD? They are going into town.
And they say the same if they are heading into Balmoral, another town that is set to lose its "official" status.
Of course, there is no explanation as to why small towns have lost their title.
But suspicions abound.
"I am deeply suspicious of the long-term impact of this decision because it may be used as a reason not to fund projects," said Wellington Shire councillor Malcolm Hole, who represents Gippsland on Rural Councils Victoria. "The heart and soul of people make the towns," Cr Hole said.
Yarriambiack Shire councillor Helen Ballentine was equally outraged when Woomelang in the Mallee lost its status.
"If someone tried to tell one of our towns which only had 40 people in it they weren't living in a town any more, they (had) better be prepared to defend themselves."
That's the spirit.
This whole issue stinks.
It makes you wonder what would happen if an ABS boss turned up in Girgarre, Nowa Nowa, Taradale or Merino.
I suspect they'd get run out of town -- or whatever else the ABS now thinks it is.
- Ed Gannon is editor of The Weekly Times.