Nationally Significant – Multi Jurisdictional Risks

Over the last 12 months or so, there has been significant discussion in relation a number of issues that impact the whole of the nation.  Issues such as energy security, population growth, food security and the like have all had a run.

What has been apparent whilst observing these discussions, is that:

  • The issues being discussed are extremely complex;
  • The solutions to these issues are even more complex;
  • The issues and the solutions cannot be addressed by one organisation, be that government or industry; and
  • There are significant risks that are not being managed.

One of my earlier risk tips related to the management of shared risks (risk tip #6).  In that risk tip I highlighted Element 7 of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy which states that:

Each entity must implement arrangements to understand and contribute to the management of shared risks.  It goes onto to define shared risks as: those risks extending beyond a single entity which require shared oversight and management. Accountability and responsibility for the management of shared risks must include any risks that extend across entities and may involve other sectors, community, industry or other jurisdictions.

That same risk tip highlighted some of the difficulties that I have seen in managing these shared risks.  Shared risks between government agencies are one thing, however, there are risks that go beyond these.  I refer to them as: Nationally significant, multi-jurisdictional risks.

I personally believe that it is time that there is recognition of the existence of these risks.  More important than the recognition, however, is the need to make an effort to scope the risk so that there can be a more coordinated approach.  What I mean by scoping the risk is the need to understand the causes as well as the stakeholders involved.  Without this scoping, the management of these risks becomes problematic.

The Nationally Significant – Multi Jurisdictional Risks

These are just some of the risks I have identifies as nationally significant:

  • Australia has insufficient reliable base-load power to meet the country’s needs.
  • Increased frequency and/or severity of natural disaster events.
  • Australia has insufficient food to meet the country’s needs.
  • Australia has insufficient water to meet the country’s needs.
  • Avoidable/detectable attack by an issue motivated person or group on population and/or infrastructure
  • Inappropriate response to a nationally significant emergency.
  • Catastrophic outbreak of communicable disease within the population.
  • Catastrophic outbreak of communicable disease within the agriculture industry.
  • Australia has insufficient reliable base-load power to meet the country’s needs.
  • Disruption to importation of supplies.

None of these risks can be managed in isolation or without clear risk ownership – and that ownership, in my opinion, needs to be at the Federal Government level.

While ever the management and response remains fractured, resources are being spent unwisely, there is duplication and, most importantly, there are potential gaps in the control environment that are not being addressed.

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