Economics Explored
Economics Explored
Oct 14, 2022
White Elephant Stampede w/ Scott Prasser - EP161
Play • 54 min

Various projects worldwide have been labeled White Elephants. These projects include the Gold Coast desalination plant and the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, among many others. What exactly is a White Elephant? How can we identify them and how can we stop them from happening in the future? In this episode, Scott Prasser joins show host Gene Tunny to talk about White Elephants. Scott is a former academic and ministerial adviser, and is one of the editors of the new book from Connor Court titled White Elephant Stampede: Case Studies in Policy and Project Management Failures. 

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About this episode’s guest: Scott Prasser

Scott has worked in senior policy and advisory roles in Australian state and federal government public service. From 2013 to 2019 he was Senior Adviser to three federal cabinet ministers covering portfolios of education and training, and regional health, sport and decentralisation. In addition, Scott has held academic positions at five universities across four states and territories, the last at professorial level. Scott gained his undergraduate and master’s degrees from University of Queensland, and his doctorate from Griffith University. Scott’s most recent publication with Helen Tracey was Royal Commissions and Public Inquiries: Practice and Potential (2014); and Audit Commissions: Reviewing the Reviewers (2013). 

Scott’s substack newsletter: https://policyinsights.substack.com/

Links relevant to the conversation

The new book from Connor Court White Elephant Stampede: Case Studies in Policy and Project Management Failures:

https://www.connorcourtpublishing.com.au/White-Elephant-Stampede-Case-Studies-in-Policy-and-Project-Management-Failures_p_510.html

Criteria for identifying White Elephant projects:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qcrWWc39VRZ8ATNO2CRmWRe8KbUxUcki/view?usp=sharing

Regarding the cost of the Gold Coast desalination plant, see:

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/tugun-desal-plant-back-online-permanently-from-2020-seqwater-20150901-gjcioa.html

The Brisbane Times article reports:

“The controversial $1.2 billion  Tugun plant was closed in 2009 after a string of complaints including rusting pipelines  and mothballed from fulltime water production in 2010.

Normally it provides only three megalitres per day to Southeast Queensland's water grid and costs between $12 million and $15 million a year to operate.”

Time Out article on fixing up the acoustics in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House:

https://www.timeout.com/sydney/news/the-new-and-improved-concert-hall-of-the-sydney-opera-house-has-finally-been-unveiled-071422

Credits

Thanks to Josh Crotts for mixing the episode and to the show’s sponsor, Gene’s consultancy business www.adepteconomics.com.au

Please consider signing up to receive our email updates and to access our e-book Top Ten Insights from Economics at www.economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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