In Hogan’s Heroes, Sergeant Schultz was famous for saying “I know nothing”.
Now we have a new use of this phrase from the Secretary of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (which I noted previously had a split personality).
In addressing the 700 staff transferring to his expanded department (which in itself is amazing: 700 people employed making energy efficiency policy), Dr Parkinson said (reported first in the Canberra Times on Saturday 6 March):
It’s not like [his department] has any expertise in this area. DCC is not a program manager … one of the ironies is that DCC is even more of a policy department [than the Environment Department].
I know that there is a natural degree of trepidation. I won’t hide from the fact that when I found out what was going on it was like, oh my God … I know nothing about program design, about program risk management
Excuse me, but isn’t Dr Parkinson in charge of the design and implementation of the most significant government intervention in Australia’s history – the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme?
The Department’s corporate plan states:
The Department of Climate Change (DCC) was established by administrative order on 3 December 2007. The department is charged with leading the development and coordination of Australia’s climate change policies. We are responsible for policy advice, implementation and program delivery in three areas:• mitigation policy through domestic emissions reduction (including the design and implementation of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme)• adaptation to the unavoidable impacts of climate change• helping to shape a global solution through Australia’s international climate change strategy (including carriage of international negotiations).
With the departmental secretary admitting he knows nothing about program design and program risk management it seems Australia has dodged a bullet with the death of the CPRS.
Dr Parkinson is an excellent macroeconomist. He has some excellent staff. But they are not experts in design and implementation of programs. The Commonwealth Government has limited expertise in this field, not surprisingly given the nature of its work. But this is an added reason why an emission trading scheme would have been bad for the Australian economy. It is one thing to devise good quality policy, but the implementation of the policy is crucial to its efficacy, efficiency and overall burden on the Australian economy.