The Australian Financial Review

By Ed Blakely

The initial crisis appears to be over in Queensland. Government response at every level has been commendable. Already, the government at every level is turning to the painful but necessary task of rebuilding Brisbane and other cities affected. The leadership and organisation of this effort is clearly well ahead of most recent disasters in Australia and the United States. Premier Anna Bligh has moved quickly to establish a recovery task force with able leadership and co-operation seems to be under way to re-establish basic infrastructure. These are good steps but recovery is a long term activity.

There is a recent fad of suggesting all difficult human change needs to be divided into steps. This approach is being applied in activities ranging from weight loss, to dependency reduction. It seems an apt device to communicate the long term, intricate and often painful process involved in the economic, social, environmental and physical recovery of a metropolitan region. Clearly, the application and the order of these steps depend on a myriad of local circumstances. The tendency to get back to normal is one that must be tempered with the requirement to make a safer and better place for the future. I offer these steps as a template and not a remedy.

These seven steps are a simple sensible guide aimed at the future. As a one un-named general said, "we always seem well prepared for the last war and not the next one". Let's prepare now for the next disaster and not merely attempt to avoid the last one.