15 October 2012
Without public servants, the $15 billion Pluto LNG project wouldn’t have happened, the Minister for the Public Service and Integrity, Gary Gray, said in Canberra today.
And he said without public servants, more than 400 indigenous people made homeless by tropical flooding in the Kimberley would not have been relocated 200 kilometres away in a new townsite.
Mr Gray was speaking at today’s ANZSIG Public Service Excellence Awards at the University of Canberra.
A former Woodside executive, Mr Gray said of the massive Pluto project, which won approval in 2007, “Without the leadership of Canberra that project would not have taken place.
‘We were able to get a decision to create the largest ever single point investment by an individual company in Australia – a $15 billion investment.
“We could only make it because the environmental approvals and processes were run out of Canberra.
“I can recall Don Voelte (former chief executive of Woodside) saying ‘why does it take 400 approvals through the system?’ and I had to make the point that the approvals went through before Woodside’s final investment decision.
“The public service is a lot better at doing these things than people give them credit for or they give themselves credit for.
“Collaboration is best created through capability and leadership not through simple decisions to cut costs.”
Mr Gray said in March last year, the surging floodwaters of Turkey Creek left the people of Warmun stunned as houses, household items and world renowned ochre-based art were washed away.
The public service again responded brilliantly, by relocating 450 indigenous Gija people from their homeland to Kununurra, 200km away.
“This didn’t meet the requirements of a newsworthy report,” Mr Gray said. “There was no wastage of taxpayers’ money; no-one died; there was no spectacular helicopter footage of people being dragged out of swirling waters.
“But there’s a community of more than 450 people who today have a functioning town, they have homes, they have schools, they have a childcare centre, their art centre is open. Their art has been restored and is on its way back to the community, and it got there because of the work of public servants in Canberra and Perth.”
|John Arthur - 0408 991 261||www.smos.gov.au|