Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 6 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 9
Volume 6 Number 1
Politics, projects and people -- panel discussion
transport and land-use plan, and the money to pay
for it. It's probably the rst time we've had such a
plan since Brad eld.
MMW: We had an Infrastructure NSW Board
meeting yesterday, to take Tony's point, with the
senior state bureaucrats and the Board members,
who are businesspeople. We are all on the same page
about taking the strategy forward. Now, that would
have been unthinkable in New South Wales a few
years ago. It didn't take a lot of hard work; it just takes
commitment to try and actually go forward.
The second point is on leadership. It's not all
about getting facts before the public. We've got a
huge problem in process -- if you have a mandate,
can you deliver it? This is the point that's coming
up. People say, 'Well, we took a mandate to the
election,' and then you're frustrated trying to deliver
it. You're frustrated largely either through not having
parliamentary majority, or, more signi cantly,
not having majority in the upper house. My good
friend, Stephen Loosley, reminded me that in the
British system, they have a thing called the Salisbury
Protocol, to which both sides have agreed. If you put
a manifesto to the electorate and you win, the House
of Lords will not frustrate you if it's consistent with
I'm not suggesting that the Shooters and
Fishers Party or the Palmer United Party are able
to understand that, but I think it would be terribly
important if the Opposition of the day understood it.
Then you can get something done. The second point
is that something's going to be done about these
upper house elections, Federal and state, with these
huge ballot papers. The electorate just says, 'These
jokers aren't serious'. You don't need to take that
to an election; you can change that by both of the
major groupings getting together and recognising
that what they've come up with is a mess, and that
they need to go back to where they were to give the
electorate a decent choice in upper houses.
Both of those reforms could be done. It doesn't
cost any money -- it just takes a bit of common sense.
We're lacking in common sense in the leadership
stakes at the moment.
BL: Accepting that point, I did want to ask the
panel about Queensland, which doesn't have an
upper house, doesn't have much of an economy
left after the mining boom, and you're seeing a real
slowdown in that state because of the scal settings.
The state is looking to Canberra to come in and solve
its project-funding problem. What do you think
about that as a philosophy, and what do you think
the answers are going to be for Queensland?
TS: Personally, I don't believe in an upper house
at the state level, or even the federal, frankly. I don't
think we get any value out of it, and it just complicates
the issue. Vote a government in, give them a mandate,
and let them get on with the job. That would be a
hell of a lot simpler than the complex arrangements
we've got in Australia, with states and two houses of
Parliament in all jurisdictions except for Queensland.
New Zealand only has one house of Parliament. They
get on the job; they're capable of reform. People are
well treated, the community is reasonably happy, and
the country is growing.
BL: And for Queensland, what's going to be
TS: With Queensland, they're heavily reliant on
investment during resources booms. They're very
heavily reliant on coal and gas exports, and then the
major issue becomes what else the economy does.
They compete on a global basis in other sectors like
tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and services. The
challenge for their government is how to transition
their economy from a resources-based economy into
something else, so that they are not reliant on a single
sector. That's the big challenge, and they're going to
focus on this whole question of jobs and productivity
in Queensland. They have the fundamentals there --
a lot of the fundamentals are there -- they've got a
lot of resources, they've got a well-educated, healthy
population and a great climate. They've got the
fundamentals there. It's just a question of getting the
plan right, and getting on with the job.
BL: Martin, you spend a lot of time in Queensland
in professional roles -- you've got a lot of friends up
there. What would you say about Queensland's
MF: Campbell Newman is a prime example of
how not to govern. He should have had a 10-year
plan, because he had a majority to actually go through
three elections unchallenged, provided he delivered
on practical, pragmatic reform over a period of
10 years. Anna Bligh started it; she actually started
to front up to the Budget challenges of Queensland.
It was there for Campbell to do in a strategic way,
Parliament by Parliament. I'm not re ecting on the
current Premier, but we now have a Government that
didn't expect to be in government. When you're in
Opposition and don't expect to be in government, continued on page 12
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