As much as politics frustrates me, the longer I have been involved with the Federation and individual member companies, the more I feel the need to follow and try and understand what is going on at all levels of government. It is not easy, as the engineer within likes planning and logical decision making, and yet politics defies all logic.

Discussion following recent Anzac Day events suggested that the First World War would have finished much sooner if we had the modern media coverage where everyone knew what was happening on the front at the time, and could get a feel for the horrors that were occurring while the papers just talked of glory and noble causes. I think the same now applies to the political spectrum. The media drives so much of the decision making process that ideas are floated and dropped between the midday and evening bulletins, based on the latest opinion poll.

I would suggest that if the media had wartime-style blackouts and the government of the day had the time to properly plan, assess and implement some strategies before they were reported on, we may have quite different outcomes. I am not advocating that we do not hold them accountable, but at least give them time to do something before we see it on the news.

As I discuss below, there are some things that we can change but for others we must adapt; so we in the CCF must also use the media to try and get our message out and influence the political decision making process towards what we believe is the appropriate direction. The good thing about our message on infrastructure is that it does not just benefit our members, but also the community as a whole. While some organisations are pushing policies that just benefit a small group, I believe that we have a universally beneficial legacy to our message.

Adapting to change

I recently read an article relating to superannuation and pensions (showing my age here), but came across a quote that I found relevant in other contexts. It relates to the term ‘unreasonable’ men as defined by the Anglo-Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw in his 1903 play Man and Superman:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Thus all progress depends on the unreasonable man …”

I was always more into science and maths at school: I don’t have a great literary background or understanding so apologies if I misuse the intent of this phrase, but for me it summarises many in our industry.

Some of us want to keep working the same way we always have, and want the world around us to stop changing, or even go back to the “old” ways. Others recognise the need to change; and try to modify their practices and operations, try new equipment and software and re-train staff accordingly.

Sometimes we are forced to change to meet new client specifications; at other times cost pressures dictate what we do. I think many of us have a foot in both camps. CCF is probably the same. We offer courses and training in new areas and systems, we provide information on the latest equipment and techniques, but we also lobby the government to provide funding and projects as they have done in the past.

I don’t think there is a single right approach, but we do need to understand that change is happening and that we all probably need to adapt and shift to some degree as the world evolves more rapidly than some of us would like.

SA Awards

I recently attended the Annual Awards event in the SA Branch, where a few companies – but mostly individuals – are recognised for their contribution to the industry in Training, Safety, Supervision and Leadership. There are also Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards presented to very worthy recipients.

While I knew many of the recipients, I was still impressed hearing of their achievements and contributions over their time. We are clearly an industry where people start in a Job, turn it into a Career, but over time this becomes a Passion – and this was evident with every winner stepping on the stage and telling their story and – most importantly – the way they told it.

I am always most pleased watching the awards for younger people who are in their early part of their employment; and already you can see and feel the enthusiasm and energy that they have for the industry. It gives you some hope for the future of our society for which I often feel despair.

Speaking of great achievements and their recognition, hopefully you have all submitted your entries for the Branch Earth Awards and are getting prepared for the National Award presentations to be held in Canberra on 13 October this year. They will follow our new-format one-day National Summit that we will be promoting in the near future.