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Thursday, 11 February 2010

Is it just Queensland that names roads after fat-cat public servants and politicians grown rank with patronage and stiff with institutional slough? The sunshine state has done it again, naming the massive Gateway Bridges after Sir Leo Hielscher.

This is the state with the Bruce Highway - named after a politician - and the Nicklin Way (a Sunshine Coast road) - ditto.

Hielscher's bio says he was born in 1819 and joined the public service at the age of 12, starting out as a runner in the department responsible for writing receipts in the early colonial administration. The young Sir Leo was an excellent receipt writer, the bio goes on. Soon, he would rise through the ranks to become a key player in all legislation and every administrative determination made in the state.

It makes for fascinating reading. Apparently, the great Sir Leo was once chastised by an under-clerk for making too many copies of a Very Important Document. Instead of the usual triplicate, the energetic young man decided to add value by making a third copy - not for the records, but to impress a particularly gamine lass who worked in the printing shop.

Fortunately, this misdemeanour didn't mar Sir Leo's inexorable rise to the top of a competent and dedicated cohort of administrators working in a number of different departments. It was this breadth of experience that enabled Sir Leo, toward the end of his career, to generate support for difficult-to-implement legislation and policies that he, himself, helped to develop.

Rah rah rah - Cheer the jolly fellow! Cheer and cheer and cheer!

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