The Wild West ... the outback ... The new world of the 1800s was a time of true liberty. People stood on their own merits. They won or they lost and they reaped the rewards or swallowed the consequences. There were no cubicle dwelling civil servants hell bent on saving you from yourself. No planning permits no licenses no permissions no heritage overlay no bylaw no regulators no inspectors. And guess what ... it worked

This site is set up to provide a forum for a number of like minded professional economists to post and comment on contemporary issues. There are a number of regular contributors whose bios are made available on the site. Most if not all of these contributors use a pseudonym for the simple reason that they are practicing economists who must take into consideration the commercial implications of posting their opinions.

While some may feel that this is a bit of a gutless approach it is the only way we can ensure free and open discussion without jeopardising our paycheques.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2020 Carpet Baggers, Nutjobs and happy clappers (Roy Rodgers)

Roughly 12 months ago some compatriots and I had a bright idea. We thought it was about time that someone blew the lid on the public consultation racket. Time that someone provided an insider’s view on how public consultation is used and abused in the heady world of policy development. And we thought the best way to do this would be to produce a witty, sharp and incredibly popular book that dealt with the subject.

I can tell that you just yawned and thought to yourself ‘what a wanka’, however, you don’t have to be an insider (or a wanka) to note the modern day prevalence of consultation in policy development. It appears that every decision made by Government is accompanied by community consultation, from the most mundane such as extending Melbourne’s clearways to the really important such as the decision to build a multi billion dollar infrastructure project. It would appear that Government is incapable of making a decision without consulting the community.

At around about the same time something rather fortuitous happened. Cue Kevin. Along came Mr Rudd with his seemingly spiritual endorsement of bureaucracy as an ethical code. And what was one of the first things he had to do? What must any good bureaucrat do? One must consult and when you have a job as big as Kev’s and you need to consult, you need to do it big time! Let’s get everyone together (and by ‘everyone’ we mean only the best and brightest), hold a forum and invite submissions on all the pressing issues facing the nation and its future (and by ‘all’ we mean basically everything). And just to spice things up and give it a bit of a visionary edge we will call it 2020. What a corker of an idea!

While 2020 sparked an enthusiastic response from our best and brightest (as an aside I have to mention that if you actually attended the talk fest believing you were one of the best and brightest individuals Australia has to offer you are a wanka 100% guaranteed) it undoubtedly elicited sighs of resignation and absolute dread from the poor bureaucrats charged with turning Kev’s dreams into reality. For myself and my merry band of mates we have to admit we found the prospect of 2020 very exciting, because we recognised it as being a golden opportunity. 2020 must be the largest call for submissions ever in the history of this country. Not only that, the topics were so broad and so ill defined that it was carteblanch to every nutjob or happy clapper with access to a word processor (I said ‘word processor’ on purpose). 2020 would have to represent the biggest collection of rambling, misguided, bigoted, ill thought out, self serving bullshit ever compiled in our nation’s history. It presented us with the perfect opportunity to highlight to the wider public who, despite the rhetoric, are never engaged in the consultation process, just what the nutjobs are saying………pure gold!

…and then to business…

So we had a lot we wanted to say about consultation and 2020 was the perfect vehicle on which to launch the debate. Vigorous emailing ensued and a crew of well trained and well positioned economists were recruited, the aim being that each would provide (anonymously of course) short sharp and witty analysis of a number of submission for each of 2020s main themes (which ranged from the environment and indigenous issues all the way through to the tightly scoped topic “Australia’s future in the world”). The intention was that each economist chose what they thought was a fairly representative bundle of submission to their theme and then conduct some high level analysis taking into consideration:

- Expected impact on average earnings and on economic growth
- The impact on incentives
- Impact on government spending and taxation, and
- Identify the winners and losers

We had envisaged giving each submission an overall rating that went from extreme nutjob all the way through wet panted happy clapper to vested interest. We even had a title

Australia 2020
Carpet Baggers, Nutjobs and Happy Clappers

anecdotes and lunacy from the world of public consultation

Needless to say the book never eventuated. There are probably a number of reasons for this but the principal one is just plain laziness … life got in the way.

While our inability to galvanise or maintain momentum and actually produce something is blatantly pathetic there is a silver lining. A couple of the authors did actually manage to draft work, which has been sitting on my C:drive ever since. Rather than let these gems go to waste I intend on posting them on this site as a series. Starting early next week I’ll begin by posting some of the excellent work that Doc Holliday, the Lone Ranger and myself drafted.


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