This is the first of a series of three articles given over to commenting on the life and usefulness of a report commissioned by the Director General of Transport in South Australia in 1979, entitled Adelaide into the Eighties: Strategies & Directions for Transport Policy in South Australia. The following article by Dr. Derek Scrafton, the former Director General of Transport at that time, introduces and provides brief background on the motivations and uses of the project and report which it eventually generated.
This primary purpose of this series of articles is to see if we can use the Adelaide report to encourage some new thinking and policy discussions in support of sustainable transport in Penang. The Adelaide example is in many ways an excellent one. Adelaide is also the sister city of Penang.
Adelaide into the Eighties was one of a series of reviews, prepared every few years, of the progress being made in transport research and planning in South Australia, with the aim of advising the State Government on the strategic direction of existing and possible future of transport policy. Some reviews were state-wide, but Adelaide into the Eighties concentrated on the situation in the Adelaide metropolitan area.
An outside consultant, Professor Eric Britton of EcoPlan International was commissioned by the Director General of Transport to undertake the review as the consultant sought fit, with the full support of the Transport Planning and Research Division staff, and given free rein to prepare a report for the Government, unfettered by interference from any department, agency or other organisation.
Professor Britton’s report was particularly interesting as his study began in what turned out to be the final months of a long-serving Labor Government but, following a State election in September 1979, his report was finalised and presented to an incoming Liberal Government.
The fact that it was well received by the new Minister of Transport was recognition that sound professional research and planning undertaken with flair by an independent observer can transcend political change and make a useful and positive contribution to the formulation of transport policy and the development of plans.
Given the wide scope of Adelaide into the Eighties, it is not surprising to find that the recommendations in the report were implemented to varying degrees: some were accepted and implemented in the succeeding decade, others put on the back burner for financial or other reasons.
Hence the necessity to undertake follow-up work at frequent intervals to ensure the innovative ideas were kept on the policy agenda, not forgotten due to social inertia, and not discarded due to the influence of vested interests, lobby groups or powerful established and well financed institutions.
The greatest successes were to be found in areas such as gradual improvement to the network of public transport services, better pricing of parking, provision of facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, and institutional reform. Whilst provision of infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and airports will dominate regional governments’ transport agendas and budgets, there is a continuing need to ensure that investment in such infrastructure is spent wisely and efficiently, and that progress is made across all facets of a jurisdiction’s transport responsibilities.
For South Australia, the Britton Report on Adelaide into the Eighties served us well following its publication and public release.
Dr. Derek Scrafton
Professor of Transport Policy & Planning
School of Natural and Built Environments
University of South Australia
(Director General of Transport, 1972-1997)
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Dr. Scrafton was appointed Director-General of Transport in South Australia in 1972, served in that position until 1997, and is now Professor at the University of SA’s School of Natural and Built Environment. He has served many appointments in the transport and planning sectors, including as a member of three major federal inquiries: Urban Transport (Industry Commissions), National Transport Planning Taskforce and Private Involvement in Public Infrastructure (Economic Planning Advisory Commission). His research interests include national transport policy and urban transport. Dr. Scrafton has served on the advisory boards of transport schools at the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne and South Australia, and was a faculty member of Architecture and Planning at the University of Adelaide.
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton