27 August 2003

Sydney Morning Herald | Time came above safety: inquiry head:
The State Rail Authority might have overlooked safety concerns over the Tangara deadman pedal because of concern with 'on-time running and things of that nature', the Waterfall inquiry commissioner, the retired judge Peter McInerney, said yesterday.

Hearing submissions from counsel on the causes of the crash on January 31 that killed seven people, he said he noted that vigilance control devices were now being put on Tangaras operating outside the metropolitan area.

The devices - alarms triggered if controls are not operated within a given time - are being installed as a back-up to deadman system.

Mr McInerney has heard that the authority made on-time running its top priority, disciplining drivers for being late and possibly deciding not to fit Tangaras with vigilance control devices earlier because it would have temporarily taken them out of service.

He said yesterday: 'Now the horse has bolted, they are fitting the devices, so there is no reason for them not to have been fitted in the 1990s.'

Same old, same old. From gungho staff meetings at the SRA to White House idiocies on Iraq and global warming, for some reason unbalanced managerialism produces really bad results. Perhaps we need to be really old-fashioned and fall back to using checks and balances rather than trusting the CEO on everything.

The implicit claim of managerialism is that the moral quality of the leader is the only thing that matters. That is an old, old assertion with surprising roots:

The conscience of a moral personality is a far greater protection against the misuse of an office than is the supervision of parliament or the separation of powers. I know no one who has a stronger conscience, or is more true to his people, than...

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