J.R. Kemp, the "Grand Pooh-Bah": a study of technocracy and state development in Queensland, 1920-1955

Cohen, Kay (2002). J.R. Kemp, the "Grand Pooh-Bah": a study of technocracy and state development in Queensland, 1920-1955 PhD Thesis, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Cohen, Kay
Thesis Title J.R. Kemp, the "Grand Pooh-Bah": a study of technocracy and state development in Queensland, 1920-1955
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science and International Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2002
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Supervisor Paul Reynolds
Total pages 372
Collection year 2002
Language eng
Subjects 430112 Biography
340213 Economic Development and Growth
210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
360100 Political Science
780106 Political science and public policy
Formatted abstract
The principal aim of this thesis is to explain the rise of civil engineer, J. R. Kemp, to a position of unrivalled administrative power and his role in the subsequent characterisation of Queensland as 'the state of development'. Kemp was appointed head of Queensland's first Main Roads authority and was the first Co-Ordinator- General of Public Works in the history of Western democracies. He also had administrative responsibility for the Bureau of Industry's three major Depression-era projects, Brisbane's Story Bridge, the Somerset Dam and the new University of Queensland at St. Lucia. His supervision as Deputy-Director of the Allied Works Council of the Allied Forces defence works program in Queensland during World War Two confirmed his national reputation as an effective administrator while, in the post-war period, he devoted all his energies to the realisation of his controversial vision for central and north Queensland's economic growth through large-scale infrastructure development. The most notable projects were the restructuring of port facilities, development of the central Queensland coalfields, and the Tully and Burdekin water conservation, irrigation and hydro-electricity schemes.

Kemp conforms to the theoretical model of a technocrat whose capacity to acquire and exercise administrative power is a function of a pro-development political climate. He served five Labor premiers, two of whom, William Forgan Smith and Edward Hanlon, strongly endorsed an overall policy of state development with its concomitant emphasis on achieving efficiency through forward planning and coordination. I argue that, rather than being the recipient of the benefits of an existing situation, Kemp played a determining role in the evolution of the political.

Keyword Kemp, John Robert.
Queensland -- Economic development.
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

Document type: Thesis
Collections: Queensland Past Online (QPO)
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Tue, 15 Dec 2009, 12:43:55 EST by Ms Natalie Hull on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service