The ‘Yellow Book’

With some prompting, initial ideas for Commonwealth support flowed in from States and Territories — still on a highly confidential basis (confidentiality was respected — no material was leaked). With the help of NCPA staff and consultant David Hain, Tom Brennan and I categorised, assessed and assembled the proposals into the so-called ‘Yellow Book’ — an A4 landscape document on yellow paper for discussion with Brian Howe.

Over a series of meetings with Howe we rejected, sought more information and details about, or regarded as serious propositions about 50 proposals from State governments, most of them still single-purpose infrastructure investment proposals. We refined the contents of the Yellow Book to produce a list of possibilities across the country and in inner urban, outer urban and regional locations. Interestingly, we did not locate them within electorates.

When Howe was satisfied that there were enough proposals that could be potentially developed to fit our broad criteria (area-based, multiple outcomes for the area, with economic, social and environmental features and benefits, capital in nature, demonstrating new ways of approaching urban renewal or new development) he decided he would take the proposals to Cabinet to support the allocation of funds in the 1991-92 Budget.

He now involved the Secretary of his Department, Stuart Hamilton, in the discussions. Stuart, in a memorable exchange in a lift in Parliament House asked me how much money the initiative would need.

‘About a billion dollars’ was my reply, and I explained to him the same logic that I had presented to Brian Howe.