Historical Guideposts

Historical & professional guideposts

Australia had its larrikans as Cyril Pearl documented so beautifully in Wild Men of Sydney;  but real thinkers too.  Federation was inspirational and catalytic.

Forgotten now, except by me as the period's historian, was the Great Reform Council of 1900-12 and their Royal Commission on the Improvement of the City of Sydney and its Suburbs.  Their "planning consensus" (Spearritt) led to  £27 million being spent on rail works of which the Harbour Bridge was  £9 million.  They did a better job of planning for a 300% increase in population than today's cloud-gatherers' 40%.  From there grew Federal (1970) and State Treasury guidelines.

An Australian, Sir Rod Eddington, reformed London (2007-08) on the basis of UK Treasury guidelines.  

In 2012 Gladys Berejiklian led an assault on Investment NSW (as the new Government's reform agency) and its chair, the Liberals' greatest-ever Premier, Nick Greiner.  She was supported in machinery of government terms by Mike Baird, who when he became Premier extended the assault and inveigled the soon-incoming PM Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy as Chief Commissioner of a supposed reforming Greater Sydney Commission.

Result = the greatest wrecker in Australian history and an unholy mess of broken promises:

ideologically-led uneconomic projects, waste of at least $40,000,000,000, hum-ha from Treasuries, and extensive plagiarisms which are coming home to roost, those feisty little dragons.  Baird's Treasury boss is now the Feds' Treasury boss which has interesting implications, especially as the Treasurer's attitude to reform of related Budget blunders reform was vigorous rejection recently.

To state it simply, the climax of the "Bairdijiklian Malenomic" fever which is being extended by PM Morrison  was the WS City Deal which is unquestionably the biggest blunder in Australia's planning history, with journos yet to wake up.

The following ratings are based on Eddington-type criteria now lost in a miasma of inept agencies:

Who would have thought

The Australian's Editor's Insights - 15 Principles endorsed

The Aus 9 Oct ‘15

  1. there is a bipartisan rush, federally speaking, to talk up big transport projects — which, by rights, are a state responsibility.
  2. there is a big risk of boondoggles and white elephants as federal MPs compete with state counterparts for sod-turning ceremonies; federal MPs in time may become the poor sods held responsible by state electors.
  3. A Martian visitor studying Mr Turnbull’s Twitter feed might mistake him for a mayor. Plenty of city dwellers — those who have no alternative to overcrowded and late mass transit — do not share Mr Turnbull’s rosy view of public transport
  4. Confusion about roles within the federation is rife
  5. Federal bureaucrats are too remote to get parish-pump projects right
  6. The history of our federation has been one of a steady accumulation of power by the commonwealth at the expense of the states. Even so, most Australians would prefer to keep the states strong as a check against an over-mighty commonwealth.
  7. Now the struggle for ascendancy finds its bathetic expression in the timetables and tolls of Australia’s lacklustre system of public transport.
  8. Mr Shorten says a future Labor government would fund 10 big projects, including a rail line to Sydney’s new Badgerys Creek airport, the Gold Coast light rail, the Brisbane cross-river rail, the Ipswich motorway and Melbourne Metro. Infrastructure Australia would be turned into a $10bn government-backed infrastructure bank to kick-start financing for road, rail, port and water projects across the nation. The $10bn would cover loans and guarantees for projects and, so they say, would attract private sector investment.
  9. The history of recent projects, funded as public-private partnerships, suggests that too often the returns are exaggerated at the outset and the taxpayer is left out of pocket. 
  10. Mr Turnbull has appointed a new, Whitlamite minister for cities and the built environment. Jamie Briggs, who holds the portfolio, used to glory in the title of Coalition spokesman on government waste. Sounds like something from the ABC satire Utopia. Waste was once his watchword but now Mr Briggs’s catchphrases are mass transit, urban amenity and green cities. He and Environment Minister Greg Hunt have been given three goals by Mayor Turnbull: to work on integrated planning; focus on infra structure funding; and to colour our cities green.
  11. the Turnbull government said it would jointly fund urban mass transit projects with the states. And the states had been “quick to throw ideas at the new minister”. You don’t say.
  12. Mr Briggs was at pains to say there was no new federal money for transport: “We don’t have a magical - bucket of money. The federal government is not a free bank.” But what does the Turnbull government expect? If the states are going to cop a commonwealth intrusion on their own turf, they will expect it to come with a financial sweetener.
  13. It’s true that congested cities are a drag on productivity. But the task of making them work better falls to state governments and city councils; there is enough potential confusion already without introducing a third level of government.
  14. some big transport projects have national significance or require interstate co-operation. The best means to deal with these is through the tried and tested process under the Council of Australian Governments; and the commonwealth can underwrite national aims by giving the states funding in the form of tied grants.
  15. Better still, clarify federal roles and bring duplication to an end. A given transport project, commonwealth or state, may well boost productivity as claimed. But much greater gains stand to be made by a project of micro-economic reform that brings a clear demarcation of roles within the federation.

They killed "VALUE", STOLE, de-democratised & denied Menzies

In real life, urban transit systems  rise and fall, as in some US Cities, and soon Sydney.


Those who are lowlife and have no realistic goals with their lives. Often used to also describe those who are criminally inclined, enjoy bullying others for pleasure and entertainment, think that they are champagne in a fall glass when they're luke-warm piss in a cup and act like they are the village hardman but are nothing more than a cowardly [cur] on the side of the road (Urban Dictionary).  

Covers those who commission conspiracies through to journos and institutes who conceal them

De-legitimising Due Diligence

Replacing accepted standards and processeses (due diligence) as Sir Rod Eddington showed in London and Melbourne, with hidden information, lies instead of data, and values based on hidden motives of foreign corporates

Rating 1: Bastard / Act

A person who breaks promises then denies he or she made them.  

An act that reverses the promised intent, i.e. a free ticket becomes a locked gaol cell

Rating 2: Bloody Bastard

A person who asks you to travel a great distance at your own expense - then refuses to see you and goes on to mis-spend great amounts of public money and ruin regions' economic prospects in favour of a demented ideological farce.  An official who steals your work and refuses to even talk about compensation, locking out legal rights and enjoying the hurt  (Artistolean hubris).

Rating 3: Absolute Bloody Bastard

A conspiracy of historical significance, changing the course of economic, social or political futures on the basis of sham projects, lying PR material and refusal to face facts and accept responsibility.  A sacking offence.

The meaning of "value proposition"

An offer that has measurable, peer-reviewed benefits that greatly exceed expected costs, and extends to solving crises before the blade falls on inept officials' necks

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Where has Sydney's civic leadership gone! Menzies is groaning in his grave, mais non?

The greatest phase of Sydney's reform was led by the business community and fully supported by the business community.  Today's generation have their snouts firmly planted in the Treasury's trough - Federal and State - and NOT ONE supports reform.

Recall that PM Scott Morrison said he would be like Menzies when he supplanted Turnbull.

Here's Menzies' "The government and ourselves" from "The Forgotten People":

to be a real democrat in a really democratic country is to occupy a position of great dignity and self‑respect, for these qualities are the natural and proper attributes of independent man. To be one of those who mouth the catch‑cries of democracy and stridently clamour for their so called "right" from the cradle to the grave and after it, but at the same time dodge every civic responsibility, is to occupy a position not of dignity but of contempt


Bit like part-time Christians!