Must try harder: Top mandarin Mike Kaiser wants us to like his department more

One of the Palaszczuk Government’s key agencies has been given a wake-up call to talk and listen to local communities rather than industry groups.

Mar 22, 2023, updated Mar 22, 2023
State Development director-general Mike Kaiser speaking at a recent Infrastructure Association of Queensland event. (Image: IAQ)

State Development director-general Mike Kaiser speaking at a recent Infrastructure Association of Queensland event. (Image: IAQ)

The Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning has commissioned a survey on how it is seen by the people it deals with and the results are mixed.

While most regarded the department as a trusted working partner, developers thought it was too risk averse and local councils said it didn’t talk to their communities.

But the department’s high profile boss Mike Kaiser won kudos for “driving noticeable change”, with one survey respondent saying he was “probably the best director-general in Australia”.

The agency is perhaps the most pivotal within the Palaszczuk Government as it holds considerable power over the shape and direction of industry development in Queensland, often dealing with multi-billion dollar proposals, including Cross River Rail and the Queen’s Wharf development.

Conducted for the department by local PR firm the Phillips Group, the survey found that there were “mixed feelings” about whether it achieved a balance between its role of encouraging industry growth in Queensland and regulating the way such growth was achieved.

“There was a view from many respondents, particularly those representing developer and industry organisations, that the Department is too risk averse and takes too long to respond to enquiries,” a report on the survey results stated.

By contrast, local councils suggested “there was a need to focus more on engagement with local communities and not just with key stakeholders such as developers, industry and government”, it said.

Another trend councils were unhappy about was the department’s SEQ-centric style.

“Respondents from organisations operating outside of south-east Queensland suggested there was a disconnect from those working within SEQ when designing, approving and collaborating with regional stakeholders, particularly from regional councils,” the report said.

However, Mike Kaiser, the former state MP and Labor Party stalwart who has worked hard to raise the department’s profile since he took over as its boss last year, won praise for his efforts in balancing the department’s functions.

In a LinkedIn post referring to the survey results, Kaiser said the research was done to find out “what our stakeholders think of working with us”.

“Being a bureaucracy is no excuse to be bureaucratic. Queensland’s extraordinary economic opportunities means this department can’t afford to be,” he wrote.

While most government agencies regularly market test the effectiveness of their work, it is rare for them to publicly release the results.

Kaiser said that while the survey results showed his department was seen as a trusted partner and helped outsiders navigate the rest of government, it needed to work on being more transparent about why it made certain decisions.

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy