Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Looking Back And Moving Forward

It’s hard to believe that ten year have gone by since the opening of the Sydney Olympics. Ten whole years, just like that. One moment we are all in Sydney celebrating the event of a lifetime, sharing the spirit with visitors from around the nation and around the world, and the next thing you know here we are looking back. And at the risk of being churlish, perhaps that has been a problem. Perhaps there has been a little too much looking back and not enough moving forward. Perhaps there has been too much basking in past glory, resting on our laurels, and not enough effort directed towards taking the lessons from that great achievement and using them to launch Sydney, and all of New South Wales, into the 21st Century.

The commonly made observation has been that for a couple of weeks in 2000 the trains all ran on time, everything worked smoothly, and everybody was friendly, cheerful and happy, so why can’t we do that all the time? Why can’t this state have the best public transport in the world, the best public hospitals, the best public management of our infrastructure? Is it really too much to ask? Of course, there was a tremendous concentration of resources devoted to making the 2000 games such a success. The effort was focused, and relied upon a huge amount of goodwill. It required not only the best standards of management but the coordinated effort of thousands upon thousands of workers and volunteers, all doing their bit and doing it well.

Today we have celebrated what remains an outstanding success, and that is fair enough. But many people have observed that the success of the Sydney Olympics marked a kind of high water mark, and since then the ball has been dropped. Some have said that Sydney, and New South Wales have failed to fully capitalise on the Games in the years since, both in terms of maximising tourism, and of ongoing state development. It has been said that a certain complacency was allowed to settle in, as if the benefits of a successful Games would simply keep on flowing automatically without any further effort. But what if the same standard of management had been applied to the ongoing promotion of the state, to the ongoing development of infrastructure, and the ongoing delivery of all government services.

It’s perfectly fine to be celebrating the success of the games ten years ago, but we should be using that outstanding success as an inspiration to do even better in the years ahead.

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