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Keywords:

  • policy implementation;
  • policy co-ordination;
  • policy contestability

Early in 2012 the Rural Property Addressing Project in South Australia announced that it had substantially met its outcomes, and that the whole of the project was soon to be completed. In 2003, one of the recommendations to cabinet from the South Australian Premier's Bushfire Summit was to endorse the development of a standard property addressing system for rural properties across the state. This was formally endorsed by cabinet, and was a direct response to the fact that essential services such as ambulance, medical and social care were hindered in providing services to the residents of Eyre Peninsula during and after the bushfires.

Overall, this was not a controversial decision, nor was it a huge implementation challenge, yet it took nine years to come into effect. This is a classic case of the tyranny of small decisions.

This article outlines some of the implementation challenges faced by this apparently simple project, and provides some thoughts for implementation challenges of the future. The take-away message is that if something so comparatively simple was made so complex, how can we adapt our public services to the cross-cutting challenges of the future?