It hasn’t taken long for the Queensland Government to appoint Justice Cate Holmes to head a Royal Commission into the floods. Her two direct deputies are former Queensland police commissioner Jim O’Sullivan, and Phillip Cummins, described as a “dams expert”, and the chairman of this global NGO of dam-builders (PDF). Interesting.
I was not a huge fan, to say the least, of the efforts of the bushfire Royal Commission here in Victoria. As noted in response to its final report, the commission failed to make any serious attempt to analyze the costs and likely benefits of its recommendations. As such, its costliest recommendation (replacing a certain class of power lines) was put off for further study by the former Brumby government, and has been completely hollowed-out by the incoming Baillieu government.
Clearly, this kind of Royal Commission not only needs technical expertise, it needs to appreciate the notion of cost-benefit analysis. While it’s a sample size of one, the Victorian experience shows that a commission headed by lawyers and senior bureaucrats doesn’t necessarily have such an appreciation.