Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Morning Musings - a meander through past posts

In Saturday Morning Musings - Country Party lessons for the Greens I suggested that the Country Party's experience might offer some lessons for the Greens as they sought to use their balancing position. Geoff Robinson reached a similar conclusion.

Geoff is a political scientist and historian who lectures at the Geelong campus of Deakin University. Geoff consciously writes from a left perspective, yet we often come to similar conclusions because we share common historical interests.

Since we wrote, the Greens have accepted ministerial positions in Tasmania.   In an article in the Australian, Greens' joy may not last, Matthew Denholm explores the tensions that the decision has created within the Tasmanian Greens. I had not realised that a majority of Green voters would apparently have preferred an arrangement with the Liberal Party. Again there are some haunting similarities with the Country Party's past.

As part of my biography of my grandfather David Drummond, one of the major figures in the NSW Country Party, I explored in detail the tensions that arose in the NSW Progressive Party (the then name for the Country Party) over the the question of relations with the then Liberal party equivalent. It's actually quite a gripping story. I should publish excerpts.

   Over the last week or so I have written a number of posts on blogging and the internet - Rupert Murdoch and the future of blogging; Blogging, Facebook and Twitter; A conversation on blogging; and The Weaver case - climate change, defamation and the internet. I have blogged a fair bit in this area because it is of obvious professional interest. It really is time to pull the various posts together.

In a comment on Belshaw's position on climate change, John Quiggin wrote:

It's impossible to make any sensible contribution on economic policy in the absence of a scientific basis for it. The choices are
(i) work with the (admittedly fallible, but better than any alternative) findings of mainstream science
(ii) set yourself up as a judge of whether mainstream science should be followed or not
(iii) maintain agnosticism and make policy at random.

John suggested that I belonged to group (ii). I responded that I could live with being parked in (ii), although I would want to qualify the wording much more tightly than John put it.

In a practical sense, the relationship between professionals (I am including scientists here) and managers, policy advisers or clients is a complicated and interesting one. I have written a little bit about this including in my still to be completed discipline of practice series. John's comment provides a stimulus to further tease issues, focusing especially on choice (ii).

I really do value my small number of commentors because they challenge my thinking. A conversation on blogging centred on comments from Kangaroo Valley David. David also inspired another almost completed post when he wrote:

You said:

“my colleagues and I spent a fair bit of time looking at the reasons for policy failure: these start from failure to properly define the problem to be addressed; continue with failure to establish a proper nexus between the problem and the proposed responses; are compounded by failure to properly define the proposed responses; and then collapse because of inadequate delivery”

So, were there any worthwhile resulting changes in approach you can report?

Who could resist such a challenge? Seriously, though, I am taking the industry policy and program work that I and my colleagues did in the mid 1980s as a detailed case study. I hope to bring this on-line next week.Belshaw 40th wedding Jan 1984

Dear it seems a long time ago. I tried to find a photo from the period, but all the direct shots have been put away.

This photo from cousin Jamie's collection was taken at my parents' 40th wedding anniversary in January 1984. It shows left to right Ron Vickers (Jamie's father),  Margaret Somerville (one of mum's sisters), David Toppin, Elaine Buzo (Alex's mum), Professor Roy Smith and then me.

I grew a beard while back at university in 1981 and 1982, so for much of the policy period we are talking about I was bearded and sometimes quite frenetic as we tried to force change through.

One of the reasons that I struggle with and am very critical of current management and administrative structures is that rigid structures, controls, performance requirements and reporting arrangements make it very hard to actually do new things. I don't think that the things we did or tried to do are possible any longer. Certainly you have to be far higher in the hierarchy than used to be the case to drive change, and even then the controls are tight.      

Maybe I am being too jaundiced. I leave it to you to judge when you see the post.   


Anonymous said...


And shocked (shocked!) I was when Mr Quiggin called me an agnostic – when all I was trying to say was that I didn’t really know…

Anyway, the autumn colours are coming on beautiful, and the weather has been superb. Whatever the reason, I am simply grateful for the moment.


Jim Belshaw said...

David, I had to laugh at your comment. And we should be grateful for the moment. May our conversations continue!

Rummuser said...

Jim, I am not qualified to offer anything on the main thrust of your post. I am however qualified on another count. I keep a beard! I would like to see you now in a beard and perhaps a full face version of your earlier avatar too!

Jim Belshaw said...

My beard now would be far too gray, Ramana! I will try to find that earlier photo for you!

tikno said...

My wishes is same with Ramana. :)

Jim Belshaw said...

I will try to find that photo, Tikno!