CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

5 August 2005

Mr Mark Ludlow
Financial Review

Middle Management from the Top

I noted with interest your account of the establishment of an Economic and Infrastructure Committee to fast-track major projects.

My interpretation of your article: Queensland's premier has established a new infrastructure committee to fast track multi-billion dollar backlog of major projects in SEQ. Premier wants to be known as 'Mr Infrastructure' and adopt the enforcement role mastered by former Treasurer. This is to let people know that there is a structure to get things done. The Economic and Infrastructure Committee will involve Premier, Deputy Premier, Under Treasurer, Coordinator General, and DGs of Premier's Department and DSD. This will involve the senior people in government sitting down and sorting out what is going on (Ludlow M 'Top group to address Qld backlog', Financial Review, 3/8/05).

Unfortunately this effort to demonstrate that the Queensland Government has a structure to get things done does just the opposite.

Dealing with (even major) investment projects should be no more than an upper-middle management role, not something that top executives should have to personally sort out before anything can happen. The fact that top management has to deal with such operational questions reflects a lack of effective organisation and the apparent reversion of Queensland's Public Service skill base to the primarily-clerical-administrator (ie mechanical paper shuffler) status that it had in the 1960s.

The real problems with Queensland's ability to deliver infrastructure involves the breakdown of effective machinery to deal with this - for reasons such as those outlined in Defects in Infrastructure Planning and Delivery in Queensland.

The latter refers to accumulating obstacles to effective action such as:

To fix the shambles which has been created requires serious policy decisions, not middle-management of individual projects by top executives.


John Craig