Dr Hoban has qualifications in economics, regional planning and government. Professional experience has given him a sharp eye for what works and what doesn’t in public policy.

His C V reveals a preference for working in the field – where the messy work of translating policies and programs into practice gets done. He first worked as an ‘outside man’ or field officer in PNG. He is retired now and lives in Brisbane where he convenes a Bush Care Group. Between then and now he worked as a ‘free lance public servant’ on planning projects in neighbouring countries and in Australia. Assignments included preparing infrastructure programs for provincial towns in Indonesia, Vietnam and Samoa; local government reform in the Philippines and PNG; a teaching post at RMIT and preparing regional plans for Melbourne and South East Queensland.

In recent years Des has taken time out to learn about managing for sustainability and biodiversity in the bush. Bushcare is a record of what he discovered in a series of field trips through the great pastoral regions of eastern Australia.

His success in accessing such an interesting body of material and in presenting this in such an informative manner speaks to what he regards as core skills for a regional planner: a collaborative working style and a passion for local histories and regional geographies.

He writes with respect for the rangers and graziers he interviews and affection for the country he visits. He combines historical research with skills in policy analysis to establish a framework for interpreting their stories.

His findings are sobering: a conditional pass on sustainability and a fail on biodiversity. So he reverts to type. Ever the planner he proposes a Charter for putting things right. This comes with strategies, an action plan and a flagship project.