PSst! Giving the nod

By The Mandarin

Friday June 18, 2021

Easy come, easy go. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)


PSst! What have you heard? Please feel free to send us any snippets of info to 

The pictures look so nice!

It’s easy come, easy go at the National Capital Authority, it seems — or is that National Rubber Stamp Authority.

That body exists to represent the interests of the federal government in Canberra development and make sure developments comply with the National Capital Plan. The normally invisible NCA found itself the focus of unwanted attention a fortnight ago when it found itself assessing an application for the ‘early works’ stage of the Australian War Memorial’s grandiose new military theme park, to be built in the ruins of the celebrated Anzac Hall, which is just 20 years old.

Despite the innocuous title of ‘early works’, the application involves approval for the demolition of the Anzac Hall — an irrevocable step toward construction of a project that has been condemned by a wide array of former War Memorial figures and the former Chief of the Defence Force, Chris Barrie.

Among the several hundred submissions made to the NCA (almost universally opposed to the development), many pointed out that it made little sense to approve the demolition of Anzac Hall when the NCA hadn’t seven seen, let alone signed off on, what was to be built in its place.

How did the NCA handle this basic problem of due process? Its public meeting record shows how: “The Authority discussed the issue of consideration of the redevelopment in parts — that is, consideration of the Early Works package without having the detail of subsequent packages or the overall project known.

NCA officers noted that the overall plans for the project were reasonably well known and articulated, such as through the Public Works Committee process, the display room at the AWM and national forums held. The NCA had good knowledge of the overall project and confidence that the final project will not depart significantly from the plans and details of the overall project available at this time.”

We can commend this highly responsive approach from the NCA to local councils, state development authorities and planning panels across the country: don’t worry about waiting for an actual development application, just give the nod to things based on the glossy brochure and model at the display stand. As long as the final product doesn’t “depart significantly”, it’s all sweet. 

In the bag

Defence has inked a $2 million contract with elite management consulting firm McKinsey — but the value and details are a secret.

Running from April to July this year, it’ll net McKinsey around $31,000 a day. According to Austender, the contract is for “project review and analysis,” and involves the Air Force executive. Other than that, the contract terms remain confidential on the grounds of intellectual property.  

It’s been a bumper pandemic year for McKinsey, a firm so notoriously secretive about their work they refuse to even be mentioned in government press releases. It’s signed two contracts worth a total $4 million with the Department of Industry to look at domestic manufacturing of mRNA vaccines (like Pfizer). We are no closer to building domestic mRNA vaccine manufacturing plants.

It’s also signed two contracts worth $5.4 million with the Department of Heath and Prime Minister and Cabinet related to the vaccine rollout.

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