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Keeping secrets is just not on

As secrets should not be repeated, I am only going to say this once – secrecy is no longer sustainable.

Once upon many a time when the business world was an ordered environment, secrecy within business and government processes was accepted by mere mortals as the way the world had to be.

In our current, highly destabilised and increasingly disordered global economy, ordinary little suburbanites are becoming very nervous about the decisions being made by politicians, government bureaucracies, and big business – even those we know about.

The alarm clock about secrecy and unsustainable decisions is ringing and people are waking up. But is the establishment?

Locally, we have the worst kind of secrecy at work with the choosing of the design and location for the most important building in Perth for the next fifty years – the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre (+ soccer stadium + banquet hall + theatre).

Over $110 million of public money will be spent soon and the public have no say – not even a look-see – at any of the proposed designs or locations for this huge Sydney Opera House-type (?) megastructure.

Apparently, only Minister for Tourism Norman Moore will make the decision.

Why is there no outcry against this outrageous abuse of political power? Because the whole process has been cleverly set up to be secret. All players have signed documents swearing secrecy – they will break the law to speak out – and the three design finalists each have a $100,000 bond at risk should info leak to the public.

Hidden government is just not on. Western Australians reflect a global trend to distrust the decisions of powerful organisations.

Consider the outcry against the two most powerful financial institutions in the world – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – who are receiving full-frontal lashings for their secretive manipulation of the global economy.

Former World Bank vice-president and chief economist, American Joseph Stiglitz recently stated, in a New Economist cover story and Globe and Mail interviews, that there are fatal flaws in the way rich countries, through the World Bank and IMF, are impacting national economies, particularly within the developing countries.

Siglitz said the IMF badly botched the Asian financial crisis, inflicting unnecessary pain on millions of poor people and small business.

The IMF dictated policies, including sharply heightened interest rates, fiscal restraint and liberalised financial markets, he said.

Further bungles will occur, predicted Stiglitz: “unless the governing structure, the openness and the mindset are changed in a more fundamental way.”

“If the people we entrust to manage the global economy – in the IMF and the Treasury Department – don’t begin to dialogue and take their criticisms to heart, things will continue to go very very wrong.”

Chief economist Stiglitz’ warning about openness and dialogue are ringing true around the western world – for all government groups.

No secrets, Mr Premier and Mr Moore – show us the Convention Centre designs.

l Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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