I have just spent a month on the road, on a driving trip through four states, and for the first time in my life I have been complaining about roadworks! In some areas there seemed to be a few short sections of clear road between busy worksites or, in some cases, what looked like an empty site with speed restrictions.
Once I put my frustrations behind me, I reflected on how many projects were happening that we don’t always hear about and was pleased that in many areas, governments and local authorities are taking the maintenance and upgrade of their infrastructure seriously and see it as an investment for the future.
A natural flow-on effect is that it keeps local industry and jobs going in the right direction. The biggest issue in many of these locations is continuity of work. At the moment there are some big projects going, but the longer term pipeline is not always certain and needs to be in the decision matrix of all parties.
While I have been able to work very flexibly for a long time, it has generally only been for short periods so this trip forced a more extended approach. What this trip did is reinforce that I can do most of my activities while travelling, although some compromises were made. I did miss a number of meetings although, with contact both before and after, this was OK. I did a few more by teleconference, which was not ideal, but better than no involvement.
What I have found is that these work best with a small number of attendees. I did one with about 10 people with lots of PowerPoint material and it was a bit of a struggle. The other thing that helps is having people who know how to participate in such a conference – keeping background noise low, not rushing in too quickly and keeping discussion matters short and to the point. My most recent was along these lines and worked well.
I did have a mixed success with phone and internet connection so clearly NBN technology still has a long way to go and I did blow my Internet Plan big time, but other than that it was a worthwhile experience.
It also helps to have good people back home minding my various business interests for me and having the confidence that we will be able to communicate instantly should the need arise and can contribute to decision making remotely. When my portable scanner failed when I had to sign and return some scanned documents I had a moment of panic; but it was soon resolved.
While you read and hear about politics wherever you are, it somehow seemed a bit more real while I was staying in Canberra for a few days. I was not surprised that the suggested GST changes appear to have been scrapped; I was not surprised that there are proposed changes to Negative Gearing or Superannuation; and also not surprised that the polls have swung back after an obvious honeymoon period.
What would surprise me would be evidence that any of the political parties care more about setting and delivering on policy that is not just based on clicks in a poll or is primarily focussed on re-election strategy. Perhaps longer terms would help encourage this behaviour, but I am not convinced. It is interesting to listen to a number of politicians from all sides who have announced their intention to retire, so now they tell us what they really think, which in all cases appears to be different from their previous position and in some cases the polar opposite to the so-called party line.
We all value our jobs and would make efforts to retain them, but how many of us would deliberately lie and mislead to keep our job! While regular readers will know that I have low regard for our political process, I had thought that things might improve further into the 3-year term, but I believe it is going the other way. Recent discussion on changes to the Senate makes us re-think the whole political system and what will or won’t work if we could re-design our whole national structure again. I don’t have the answer but what we have today is not working in our best interests!
Within the CCF we are currently reviewing our structure and how we operate and it is clear that just because a structure worked in the past does not mean it is the best way to operate in the future. At this stage we hope to be proposing some changes in the near future; and will engage with all branches to communicate and seek feedback. I wish our politicians would be as diligent.
At our recent National Board Meeting, we completed some further planning for the National Summit and the National Earth Awards Finals to be held in Canberra later this year, so if you haven’t lodged your State entry, you’d better get on to it soon. Many past winners have found that the exposure has helped their business both internally and externally. Even if you are not a winner, my own experience is that in preparing and submitting an entry, you learn a lot that can benefit your operations so there is a win – win outcome.