What a conundrum! Good budget restraint and good economic policy is often bad business for the state. This is not a social welfare bleat, but a whinge about the lack of vision by Government. Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, indicated that, “the best economic decision may not be the right one.” All the good business coaches I have spoken to indicate that balance sheet management, although necessary, should only be used as a tool and not necessarily as a reason to determine. As a businessperson, balance sheet management is short sighted and does not lead to a sustainable growing business.
In the late 1920’s, as Wall Street was crashing, a man called Bradfield determined that New South Wales needed a bridge. The north and southern sides of Sydney needed to be joined. He didn’t just do a bridge of two lanes as they would do today. He built an eight-lane bridge spanning one mile. He also ensured that there were train tracks running across that bridge so that the north and south were connected by rail. What an act of vision.
The critics at the time criticised the then premier JT Lang for undertaking such a momentous project. In fact, it almost broke the state when the depression struck. It was the drive of Bradfield that ensured that the bridge was completed and opened on the 19th of March 1932.
At the time, Bradfield was castigated and criticised for his vision. Well, maybe today we should build a statue and deify him for his vision. It is unimaginable what Sydney would have been without the Harbour Bridge.
You might be surprised to learn that the last urban plan done for Sydney was done in 1930. 88 years have passed, and we are still planning to plan. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “fail to plan – plan to fail”.
Throughout the decades, the government has always looked for ways of cutting the budget. They removed the Bondi tram; took away the Castle Hill railway line; took away the railway line which went down the left side of Lake Macquarie; built two lane freeways which were too small; and removed the Sydney city trams. This was progress? The government is now rebuilding the Castle Hill line and wanting credit for it. Although they are not building the Bondi Tram, they have a light rail system being built in the centre of Sydney and branching out to Moore Park and Randwick.
These decisions may have been made in the past which reduced the budget and provided some form of economic surplus but it’s just bloody bad business. Removing infrastructure is just bad business!
Dear Gladys wants to pull down the Cahill Expressway to build some new buildings. Gladys, don’t think. Leave our infrastructure alone. Let’s make decisions with some foresight not decisions on balancing a budget.
I know this is a conundrum for all politicians! Do we balance the budget, or do we dare to make risky decisions? I’ll opt for risky decisions any day.
This article was written by Bailey Compton, Principal Solicitor & Director at Leverage Group.
To get in touch with Bailey, please email email@example.com.