Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why I remain a New England New Stater 2- Industry Representation

All Government's use advisory bodies of one type or another to provide external input. While the strength of those bodies varies, collectively they have a significant impact on the development of policy.

Recognising that economic activity across NSW varies, one might expect that New Englanders would have membership of those bodies roughly proportional to population. However, it does not work that way.

A number of years ago I was asked by the national president of an industry association to put forward some names for consideration by the NSW Government for membership of a particular body. The aim was to get broader representation.

I deliberately put forward some names from regional NSW, including a New Englander. The New Englander was head of a firm in a new industry area that had been developing an international reputation.

All the names were rejected by the NSW Government Department on the simple, practical grounds that selection of people from outside Sydney would create greater administrative difficulties and also increase costs through payments for travel and accommodation.

Fair enough, perhaps. But this decision had two effects. First, it meant that there was no regional input at all into what was meant to be a body advising on the state as a whole. Secondly, it cost those I nominated the chance to build a broader reputation.

In broad terms, Governments appoint those that they know. Yes, there are now all sorts of policies and procedures intended to ensure fair and representative treatment in appointments. Yet the reality is that the really hard part is to get that first appointment.

This is an example of a systemic weakness, one that compounds with time.

Would New State agitation help? Yes, because it would force Governments to look at ways of accommodating New England representation.

Back to introductory post.

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