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Fresh challenges await an experienced campaigner

WITH the Department of Conservation and Land Management successfully broken into three parts, its executive director Wally Cox has gone in search of a new challenge.

Dr Cox has left the public service to pursue a career in academia – much as his CALM predecessor Syd Shea did.

He will soon become the executive dean of the faculty of business and public management at Edith Cowan University.

Even though Dr Cox’s new role comes only months after the Gallop Government took office, he says he was not forced to move on.

“In fact, Environment Minister Judy Edwards tried to get me to stay on,” he said.

“From my point of view the move is about taking on a new challenge.”

Dr Cox said the ECU had been talking to him about the new role for some time.

“It wants to build on its links with both the business community and Government,” he said.

“They are particularly keen to use my connections and experience in working with both the business community and Government to build on those linkages.”

Indeed, ECU has been operating in the shadows of WA’s older institutions since it made a change from the WA College of Advanced Education system in the early 1990s.

But Dr Cox said the organisation had some strengths it could build on.

“It is the biggest university in WA and has the State’s second largest business school,” he said.

“The university is closer to the community than the other universities.

“It is also at the cutting edge in areas such as multimedia and electronic commerce.

“The idea is to build on and increase those strengths, not only to build new courses but also to help WA businesses to become more competitive in the national and international community.”

Besides his role with CALM, Dr Cox has spent 18 years as a chief executive of several Government authorities, including the Water Authority, the Department of Regional Development and the East Perth Redevelopment Authority.

Indeed for a time it seemed there could not be a redevelopment authority set up in Perth unless Dr Cox was involved with it.

While chief executive of the EPRA, he also took on the running of the Subiaco Redevelopment Authority and helped create the Midland Redevelopment Authority.

Perth Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass said that, while he did not always agree with Dr Cox – particularly over a tract of land on Arden Street that the EPRA wants to redevelop and council wants to turn into parkland – he found him to be a very efficient officer.

“Wally has every reason to feel a great amount of pride in overlooking a large part of the redevelopment of the old industrial land in East Perth into the showpiece it is today,” Dr Nattrass said.

Dr Cox was brought in to take the EPRA from a planning agency into its implementation phase.

“When I left I could see the final shape of the redevelopment taking place,” he said.

“While the Eastern Gateway and Northbridge Urban Renewal projects would have been challenges, they would still have been more of the same in a way.

“But I still drive through to have a peek at what the EPRA is looking like from time to time.

“When I was asked to come to CALM it provided me with the challenge I needed.”

Dr Cox took the CALM role at the behest of former Premier Richard Court who was concerned about mounting public concern over the agency’s role.

Besides holding responsibility for the management of WA’s national parks, CALM also was responsible for managing the State’s forest resources.

Dr Cox was charged with breaking the agency three ways to create the Conservation Commission, the Forest Products Commission and the “new” CALM.

The Conservation Commission owns WA’s national parks.

The “new” CALM has responsibility for the management of the national parks and to work with the public on conservation issues on public and private land.

The Forest Products Commission takes responsibility for managing the State’s forest resources.

Dr Cox said the break-up was successfully completed in November.

“There is much more accountability in terms of the management of forests,” he said.

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