CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

Email 19/9/07

Mr Paul Syvret,
Courier Mail

'Harsh reality must be tackled' - a bit sooner please

Your recent article about the need for Queensland's government to be pro-active about the peak oil issue was spot on.

My interpretation of your article: A decade ago climate change and greenhouse gas emissions was confined to debate in a few scientific journals. Now it is an accepted reality. The problem of peak oil is the next global crisis that must be confronted. Credit should go the the Queensland Government for commissioning a report on this. Required responses will include: smart urban planning; massive spending on public transport and incentives for alternative fuels. Forward planning and proactive policy have not been the hallmark of this ALP Government (considering electricity, health, water). But energy must be (Syvret P., 'Harsh reality must be tackled', Courier Mail, 15-16/9/07).

However there is a bigger issue here - namely the fact that in Queensland such issues ALWAYS seem to be subject to a 10-20 year lag in getting from the technical literature into public and political consciousness. There seems very little about the current peak-oil issue that was not well known 10 years ago to anyone who monitored such literature. And the climate change issue was being widely canvassed two decades ago (not just one) - and ironically action is now being taken just as the literature is now suggesting the possible need to rethink the question (see Climate Change; 'No time to lose' in doing exactly what?).

In dealing with strategic policy R&D within the Queensland Public Service over many years it became obvious to me that the lack of civil institutions within the community to identify and analyse such major trends was one reason that the state was usually so slow in responding to opportunities and threats. For example the the importance of innovation to an economy was widely recognised in the technical literature in 1970 but not til the late 1980s did this gain widespread understanding in the community - and Queensland's recently retired Premier still seemed to believe that his 'Smart State' rhetoric was on the leading edge.

This situation illustrates very well the need to enhance Queensland's civil institutions and other support to the political system - an issue which is explored further in comments on my web-site that suggest what might be required to be Queensland's Next Successful Premier.


John Craig