Apr 9, 2013

Copyright and Brisbane Virtual on Flickr

On Monday, 8 April 2013 Lee Hellen emailed me to ask about the obligations of a licensee in using images obtained from Brisbane City Council's Virtual Brisbane series on its Flickr account  given the CC-BY 2.0 Generic licence. Lee – in a collaborative effort with other people - wished to use the images in a document about 3dQld pointing out opportunities available through new surveying and information technologies. Incidentally, I had just downloaded and installed SketchUp – 3D for everyone programme – free software emanating from a joint venture between Google™ and Trimble™. I recognised the influence of Sketchup in one of the Virtual Brisbane series.
As a further coincidence, on 5 April DRNM updated its information on Queensland Globe about release of a Google Earth App to layer Queensland Government datasets  as announced by Premier Newman.  However, the actual ability to improve these services will depend on more co-ordinated efforts by industry on Improving positional accuracy of the DCDB as envisaged in 3dQld venture. All these things are testimony to the power in networks of people and organisations in innovative processes. Innovation is about trying things that have elements of newness and unpredictability. The opportunities cannot be separated from elements of new risk-taking.
The CC system of copyright licensing began in 2002 with the introduction of the CC-BY 2.0 Generic licence. This licence was soon able to gain some acceptance internationally and the Creative Commons website provides a summary overview of its subsequent development in Australia. The system was born in a digital age where it was increasingly possible for digital technology enthusiasts to create mix, merge and mash up a variety of information from various sources – with audio and visual clips from photography, cinematography, music and various recorded performances.
One of the risks in merging information resulting from a variety of professional and amateur publishing sources is the risk of copyright offence infringement. The risk extends across national borders and the ability to appropriate the results of other people’s work without acknowledgement or the offer of payment soon became of more profound significance in arrangements for free trade.
Commercial publishers usually go to some lengths to let people know of their claims to copyright and their acknowledgement of the work of other persons. Australian copyright law acknowledges the creative work expressed as writing and provides a separate treatment for creative elements in theatrical performances, radio and TV broadcasts, photography, cinematography, drawings, logos, and various icons. In addition, the Copyright Act makes a further distinction between legal and moral rights. Commercial publishers usually indicate the extent of their research in the front matter of their publications or in the rolling of credits.
Returning now to Lee’s query, the short answer is that a licensee is free to use the information subject to giving attribution to whoever is entitled to receive it. However, this leads in turn to the following questions that follow as matters of logical analysis to inform a matter of practice:
1.      Who is entitled to receive attribution; and
2.      What should be said by way of attribution?
In downloading and incorporating works from the Flickr website under a CC-BY licence , the guiding principles should be to give due respect to the creative work done by other people; and to provide sufficient information by way of attribution to identify persons and trace the provenance of the information back to the source. Generally, the more professional publications and style guides provide examples of how this can be done.   

Sep 5, 2012

Trends and megatrends


CSIRO released its latest update today - 5 Sep 2012 - in a series entitled Our Future WorldThe 2012 revision is cited as follows:
Hajkowicz SA, Cook H, Littleboy A. 2012. Our Future World: Global megatrends that will change the way we live. The 2012 Revision. CSIRO, Australia.
The French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr is attributed with the maxim excerpted from Les Guêpes, (January 1849) that is usually translated into English as:
The more things change the more they remain the same.
If an important human purpose is to maintain a meaningful existence for a lifetime and leave the world in a state that does not prejudice the chances that future generations can also survive meaningfully, then our production systems need to reflect stability rather than the the crisis-filled management of boom and bust  Some smoothing and stabilisation becomes important to maintain employment, housing, and food production as well as  continuity in income for an ageing population less reliant on savings or social welfare.


Many of the things that CSIRO has identified as megatrends relate to systems for producing goods and services that contain elements of continuity that have not changed for millennia. These elements may be likened to a fundamental metabolism - the ability to ingest food, water and air of adequate quality as part of maintaining physiological and psychological health in human beings. This requirement for producing and consuming metabolites extends to a community problem that extends to supporting people who are too young, too old or incapacitated in some way to contribute fully towards their own upkeep.

The ability to do more with less will depend on human ingenuity in using the resources at hand more effectively. The pathway needs to be seen in terms of changing circumstances that influence what will be produced and how it can be done.

The surveying and mapping industry in Queensland has undergone considerable progress since the 1960s in becoming more responsive to 
John S Cook, An interpretation of current progress towards an industry model for Queensland's surveying and mapping industry. In 39th Australian Surveyors Congress, 8-13 November 1998, Launceston, TAS., reissued as a digital version on 8 August 2012 with revised references to online digital content.
Further comment will be made on many of these issues at QSSC2012 - the conference to be held on 13-14 September 2012 at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

Recent representations to Parliamentary Committees

CSIRO's 2012 Update is already common knowledge to competent socioeconomic analysts. It is important nonetheless in providing a readable, credible and authoritative expression of opinion that is likely to filter into news stories about current affairs and become more widely appreciated within a broader community.

Moreover, the key messages serve to reinforce the advice from the Queensland Division of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (QSSSI) through its Land Resources Commission (LRC) to two current parliamentary Committee Inquiries.

Aug 9, 2012

AREC inquiry into regulation in primary industries

Invitation for Submissions

The Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee of the Queensland Parliament has invited submissions from interested persons into methods of regulating  agriculture and resource industries. An issues paper indicates the likely focus of AREC's inquiry and makes frequent reference to the COAG agenda towards best practice regulation.

The closing date for submissions is 17 August 2012

Background to the COAG Agenda

The issues paper needs to be seen in the context of the COAG Meeting Communiqué of 13 April 2012. The Business Advisory Forum reported as follows:
Following discussions at the Business Advisory Forum, COAG agreed to progress six priority areas for major reform to lower costs for business and improve competition and productivity.  The reform priorities are:
  • addressing duplicative and cumbersome environment regulation;
  • streamlining the process for approvals of major projects;
  • rationalising carbon reduction and energy efficiency schemes;
  • delivering energy market reforms to reduce costs;
  • improving assessment processes for low risk, low impact developments; and
  • best-practice approaches to regulation.
As a response, COAG agreed to establish a Taskforce  to advise on measure to be taken; and the Taskforce in turn asked the Productivity Commission for a ‘preliminary high-level review’ of sixteen areas of reform that COAG had identified. The review is now published as -

At is 25 July meeting,  COAG reviewed advice form its Taskforce and the Productivity Commission Report.
COAG reiterated its commitment to reducing duplication and double-handling of environmental assessment and approval processes while maintaining high environmental standards that are risk- and outcomes-based. In line with the timing agreed at the COAG meeting in April, consultations are underway and negotiations for bilateral agreements are about to commence.
 Related documents included:

Presumably, AREC will consider this background in its report to the Legislative Assembly that is required by 30 November 2012.

Relevance to Surveying and Mapping Industry

An industry submission to AREC - required by 17 August 2012 - could indicate SSSI's interest in its current inquiry in the following areas:

  • In dealing with development applications
  • In pointing out the importance of information and the need to develop efficient information processing by humans and machines in achieving effective regulation
  • In pointing out the particular importance of information about location in a variety of regulations affecting natural resources and the natural and built environments..

Aug 2, 2012

Mines Legislation (Streamlining) Amendment Bill 2012


On 2 August 2012, Hon Andrew Cripes MP, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, introduced the Mines Legislation (Streamlining) Amendment Bill 2012.

The Bill was referred to the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee (AREC) in accordance with Standing Order 131. The committee will now examine the policies the Bill seeks to give effect to as well as the Bill’s lawfulness and the application of fundamental legislative principles, as set out in s.4 of the Legislative Standards Act 1992.

The following documents are relevant to the Referral:

AREC has announced that:the closing date for submissions is Wednesday 8 August 2012.  Dot points will be fine and it will be particularly helpful if you identify the clause, or clauses, from the Bill which your comments relate to.

Aug 1, 2012

The ability of a profession to change to meet the needs of the public

A fascinating read if you have the time is tracing the history of the profession through the directions governing cadastral surveys and plans in Queensland since 1847. These directions are available for DNRM on CD for those who do not have it.

I believe it is only when you understand the rules and  regulations of those whom we follow that can you truly appreciate how to apply our land tenure system and how the profession has evolved to what we have today. 

History of the profession

The directions under which surveyors practice and operate has evolved from a two page document in 1848 to 206 pages in 2012. The registrar directions for the preparation of survey plans has evolved from 2 pages in 1890 to only 118 pages.

The profession through these regulations has shown the ability over time to evolve and adapt with  changes and technology and public need

One example of this is the recent changes to the rules that govern survey of land fronting an ambulatory boundary in Queensland. The profession has again been tested and has come up with a solution to the change in public policy to preservation of public waterways and beaches. This will not be the last....

An interesting example of why surveyors need to set the regulations not others......

At the forefront of most in relation to surveying is accuracy. But it is surprising that the accuracy requirements for performing rural surveys has not changed since the 1898 directions to surveyors which stated a limit of error of closure of 1 link in 50 chains or 1:5000. Wages have increased since 1898 (slightly)..

Most people would say that is crazy....Surveyors measure more accurately now than they did in 1898,why haven't they changed and increased the accuracy specification to that equivalent to what is being used. Well to a surveyor like me I believe there has been no need for change as this regulation still meets the public need.

A need to organise and participate

Anticipating the public need is important in how we regulate the profession and how it remains viable.

I think there are real challenges that lay before the profession especially from the perspective of number of people who will administer land in the future. A growing need and a reduced workforce. We (the surveying profession)  need to get smarter and more efficient in the way land is managed to deal with this to meet the future 'public need'.

I hope surveyors can lead the regulatory reform that effects the Surveying profession in Queensland through recent changes in technology and public policy,  rather than being lead by those who do not have an understanding of the history and importance of the profession and our regulations to meet the needs of the public.

Jul 29, 2012

Notes on Queensland’s Parliamentary Committee System

Items that deserve immediate attention

At present, a few technical, political and socio-economic changes are moving in directions that provide Queensland’s surveying and mapping practitioners with some reasons for optimism about the near future.  However, there are also countervailing reasons for some pessimism about global economic conditions; and the difficulties of maintaining respect for parliamentary and democratic institutions.

The Liberal National Party (LNP) gained a clear mandate to govern from results of the state election held on 24 March 2012.  The new government inherited a system of parliamentary committees that followed an extensive review by the Legislative Assembly under the Bligh Government; and the system was accepted for the most part on a bipartisan basis. Much of this is a response to a new phase of microeconomic reform that follows reports on regulation by Australia’s Productivity Commission . Key points related to this aspect of microeconomic reform are summarised in Reducing regulatory burdens for Queensland’s agriculture and resource industries, Paper No.1 July 2012.

Naming of New Committees on 17 May 2012

The State Governor opened the 54th Parliament on 16 May 2012. Her address to Parliament gave a preliminary account of the new government's legislative programme. 

The government introduced the Parliament of Queensland and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2012 - refer also to Explanatory Notes - and it passed through its first, second and third readings in a single day. The urgency of these actions indicates the importance of a workable committee system to the way the Newman Government intends to operate. The Bill took effect as Act No.6 of 2012 on 18 May 2012 - the date of the Bill's assent.

Some aspects of the approach to be taken by the Newman Government are summarised in Subordinate legislation tabled on 17 May 2012,  Report No. 5, State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee, July 2012 as follows:
Role of the Committee 
The State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee (the committee) is a portfolio committee established by the  Parliament of Queensland Act 2001  and the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly on 17 May 2012. 
It consists of government and non-government members.  The committee’s primary areas of responsibility are: State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Energy and Water Supply, Tourism, Major Events, Small Business, and the Commonwealth Games. 
Section 93(1) of the  Parliament of Queensland Act 2001  provides that a portfolio committee is
responsible for examining each Bill and item of subordinate legislation in its portfolio area to
consider – 

a) the policy to be given effect by the legislation; b) the application of fundamental legislative principles to the legislation; and c) for subordinate legislation – its lawfulness

Parliaments referrals to Committees on 6 June 2012

At pp.679-681 of Hansard of 6 June 2012, Parliament made a number of references of particular issues to its committees. These take a general form in specifying:
  • particular issues for dealing by particular committees; and 
  • a requirement for committees to take public submissions and consult with key industry groups, industry participants and relevant experts:
  • a requirement to report findings to the Legislative Assembly by a due date.
The following provide further detail:
  • To the Finance and Administration Committee to inquire into operation of Queensland’s worker’s compensation arrangements and report by 28 February 2013.
  • To the Health and Community Services Committee to inquire into some urgent health issues) and report by 28 February 2013.
  • To the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee to inquire into Queensland’s land tenure system and report by 30 November 2012 – closing date for submissions on 3 August 2012.
  • To the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee to inquire into regulatory requirements impacting on agriculture and resource industries and report by 30 November 2012 – closing date for submissions on 17 August 2012.
The closing dates of 3 August and 17 August 2012 for submissions to the last two of these Committee referrals will require statements from interested organisations and individuals by the due dates. Some inferences can be drawn from this kind of approach by the Queensland Parliament and the growing amounts of material disseminated through on-line communication channels. 

The invitation to make submissions carries with it some responsibilities in being prepared to respond quickly on the issues that are the subject of a Committee's inquiry. Being able to respond quickly and competently depends on the human and organisational capital that results from learning. While it is possible through these public discussions to establish credibility and confidence, it is also a way in which the uninitiated can reveal their ignorance. The ability to learn quickly and respond quickly depends on new kinds of professionals who must try to be ready as practicable for anything that might occur.

The cycle of life is that we work so we can live - and we live so we can work and also enjoy life. It is easier if learning and working can be seen as a source of enjoyment.

Jul 25, 2012

Land Surveying Forum - 11 July 2012 Meeting

Parliamentary Committee on Land Tenure

On 7 June 2012, Queensland's Legislative Assembly referred an inquiry into land tenure in Queensland to its State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee - as recorded in Hansard at p.680. The Terms of Reference require the Committee to report to the Legislative Assembly by 30 November 2012. The Committee is now accepting submissions from the public; and submissions close at 5:00pm on Friday, 3 August 2012. The Terms of Reference were given as follows:

That the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee inquire into and report on the future and continued relevance of Government land tenure across Queensland.That, in undertaking this inquiry, the committee should particularly consider the following issues:
  • Ensuring our pastoral and tourism industries are viable into the future;
  • The balanced protection of Queensland's ecological values;
  • Ongoing and sustainable resource development; and
  • The needs and aspirations of traditional owners.
Further, that the committee take public submissions and consult with key industry groups, industry participants, indigenous Queenslanders, and relevant experts.

Spatial Industry Response

The Land Surveying Commission of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, Queensland Chapter  (SSSIQ-LSC) became aware of the inquiry into land tenure. The issue became an agenda item at a cadastral surveying forum sponsored by the held at the Greek Club on 11 July 2012. I presented an outline to the forum of how I thought the Parliamentary Committee might proceed based on things I see as major influences in the way governments are being financed and required to operate.

Briefly, much of the rationale for the new Parliamentary Committee System arrangements stems from a desire by COAG for better regulation and better performance reporting by government. A first step is to achieve a better scrutiny by parliament on what legislation is passed by the Parliament. A later step will be the review of whether legislation actually does what it is supposed to do.

In accepting an invitation to respond with the Parliamentary Committee, the response will present both opportunities and risks for SSSIQ. The opportunity is for a meaningful conduit to members of parliament to express opinions without having the content filtered through the communication processes of executive government. The risks are in failing to indicate the relevance of our industry in a way that resonates with the Committee's needs for information.

Some background into what is expected from the system of parliamentary committees is apparent in the following references.
Legislative Assembly of Queensland, Committee System Review Committee, Hon Judy Spence (Chair), Review of the Queensland Parliamentary Committee System, Queensland Parliament, 15 December 2010, ‘Introduction’, p.xi. Refer also to related documents.

The Parliamentary Committee's First Meeting

Although the terms of reference are broad ranging, the Parliamentary Committee will necessarily refine the scope and direction of its inquiry. The following information refers to uncorrected proofs of minutes of the first meeting of the Parliamentary Committee held on 11 July 2012
State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee - Public briefing - Inquiry into the future and continued relevance government land tenure arrangements in Queensland, Transcript of Proceedings, Wednesday, 11 July 2012, Brisbane.
Generally, the minutes record the comments of senior public servants about how they see their roles and functions. However, the comments of committee members give inights into their personal knowledge, misunderstandnings and concerns. Overall, the inquiry processes show some prospects of building sophisticated understandings and agreements on which more effective regulation can be founded. However, the propsects for misuse and abuse of the processes are always present.

Where to From Here?

SSSIQ-LSC should respond to the Committee's invitation to make a submission. Initially, our response should be to indicate how our knowledge is relevant to the Committee's work. The work may be seen as an investment in establishing a good working relationship  between the regulators and the regulated - and between the parliamentary representatives and those who deserve to be adequately represented.

On recieving a submission that claims to come from an industry association, a parliamentry committee is entitled to ask if the submission is well informed and representative of the industry on key issues and whether there are some issues on which there is no industry consensus. Parliamentary committees have a particular legitimacy in a democratic society to understand and recommend policy measures in matters of public interest.