Queensland has had more than its fair share of white elephant projects, including the Toowooomba Wellcamp quarantine facility and the Gold Coast desalination plant. The economics and politics of white elephants are considered in a new book from Connor Court Publishing, White Elephant Stampede: Case Studies in Policy and Project Management Failures. One of the book’s editors, well-known local public policy commenator Scott Prasser, is the latest guest on my Economics Explored podcast. You can listen to my conversation with Scott about white elephant projects on podcasting apps including Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.
White elephant projects are part of the broader problem of governments managing public funds poorly in many circumstances. A recent example of that is the revelation of $2.8 billion of previously “unforseen expenditure” across Queensland Government departments in 2021-22, as reported by the Courier-Mail earlier this week. Of course, we’ve just lived through a challenging period and some unforseen spending was probably unavoidable. But it does raise the question of whether the state Treasurer and his department are paying close enough attention to the operations of state government agencies. I’ll aim to have a closer look at the budget blowout in a future post.
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