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Where's the long-term vision?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Author: Liam Mannix, Indaily

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OUTGOING Integrated Design Commissioner Tim Horton has fired an extraordinary parting salvo at Premier Jay Weatherill's government, accusing it of sidelining him, failing to understand his commission, and lacking a long-term vision for the state.

Horton's term as IDC Commissioner expires at the end of December after his budget was cut mid-year. He has kept his own counsel since that decision was made, but his public silence on the axing came to an end during a speech last Friday.

"I figure the blowback is limited. What are they going to do, sack me?" Horton told the crowd at a Festival Centre lunch hosted by the Australian Institute of Urban Studies.

Horton estimated the IDC had enjoyed about 200 days of "effective life" in the two-and-a-half-years it had been was established "before, to be honest, changes in the political landscape also meant changes for us".

Horton measured the "effective life" of the commission from January 2011 to October 2011, the date at which Weatherill replaced ousted Premier Mike Rann.

"It's fair to say the speed at which we were able to operate changed in the last 12 months," he said.

"Our role as an independent commission changed slowly to be that of a business unit of Premier and Cabinet, reporting through a hierarchy where, to be frank, risk is still the primary currency.

"This hybrid model retained all the public expectations, rightfully, of a commission.

"The impact of this stalled or quashed initiatives and elevated risk reduction to the overriding mode of operation."

Horton claimed the State Government, in particular the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure headed by Minister Pat Conlon, lacked a long-term vision for the state.

He claimed there was "a structural and cultural shortfall in the work of the DPTI over many years."

"My judgement from two years' deep engagement with the department is that the strategic capacity for long-term scenario planning is missing."

Horton picked two examples two make his point - the lack of both a transport strategy and an infrastructure strategy.

"Where is the transport master plan for greater Adelaide? We need a strategy that is multi-modal. We need to back bikes with a budget.

"Where's the long-term master plan for train expansion and for train upgrade?

"Let's hope this features as a part of the strategic infrastructure plan, that has also been missing in action for far too long."

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