I have known Mike since he joined the Australian Institute of Traffic technology in 1978. I was very surprised and choked to hear that Mike Veysey passed away on 6th January 2022 at the age of 67. It’s not the way I wanted the New Year to start.
Mike was a Senior Public Servant and consultant specialising in transport and infrastructure projects. He was a problem solver with a track record for resolving conflict on major traffic and transport issues and managing major special events, in metropolitan Sydney and regional New South Wales. He had demonstrated ability to influence key decision makers and solve problems by drawing on extensive experience in the traffic and transport arena. A relationship builder, he had the ability to develop and maintain productive relationships with NSW Government agencies, local councils and the private sector.
Mike’s most notable achievements include:
Chaired Technical Working Party which successfully implemented Pitt Street Mall
Led the effective delivery of high profile and controversial major Government initiatives, such as the Inner West Busway project. He led the team which closed the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first time in its 80-year history for two weekends to resurface it and dealt with all traffic management, transport and media impacts as project leader, including over 400 workers on and around the site. To do this he gained substantial cooperation from private sector partners to ensure the success of this historic project
Sydney CBD Precinct Manager during the Sydney Olympics
Developed and implemented successful bus priority programs, including the bus lane and quick lane divider changer on Victoria Road to enable tidal flow at peak times
Developed and implemented successful programs to cater for pedestrian safety and amenity across the metropolitan region and rural areas of NSW
Proven experience in briefing Ministers, Members of Parliament and the Premier
Led the team which managed and operated over $50B of transport infrastructure assets and led the effective management of contract risk, environmental risk and technical risk on all RTA road works projects
Chaired the Australasian Reference Group for an OECD project on the effects of road friendly suspensions on pavements and bridges which was a key input to the Mass Limits Review in Australia. Also Chaired the Austroads Environmental Liaison Group for eighteen months, including finalisation of the Austroads “Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development”.
Mike was a practical man and dealt with challenging matters on merit. Fred’s recall an incident in Norwest Business Park when he was in charge of the Parramatta RTA Office in early 2000th. The Rouse Hill to Parramatta Transit Way was to be constructed on the understanding that traffic along Old Windsor Road would reduce by up to 30% in future. I then submitted an application for the major Circa Development adjacent to OWR. The application was then rejected for the reason that future traffic along OWR was not likely to be reduced by 30% as per the Transit Way EIS. Mike then attended the meeting with all involved. As soon as he got the facts, he approved our approach on the understanding that if reducing the traffic by 30% was wrong then the EIS would be flawed as well, and there would be no need to build the Transit Way.
Mike was well-known for his belief in his staff and proactive style of decision-making. If ever a situation was unclear and there was some doubt about an issue, his bold starting position was always “Is there a good reason that I shouldn’t approve this?”. Most managers these days tend to take the opposite position and err on the side of caution. Sadly, the public service will not see his like again.
Mike was a passionate supporter of the Bus Lane on SHB. As a result of responses to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel EIS, overseen by Brian Watters, a condition of approval was inserted requiring that some of the additional cross-harbour capacity should be allocated for public transport use, by way of a bus lane on the Bridge. There was strident opposition to this - not least from the NRMA - but Mike and Brian could see the advantages and were fully committed to it. They convinced the politicians, and the Bus Lane has been a huge success. It has transformed the operation of the bus system and reduced the crowding at Wynyard, since buses can be stored on the north side and reliably get into the city in short time when required. Monitoring by RTA showed that the SHB Bus Lane carries many more people in the morning peak hour than all of the other southbound lanes combined.
Tributes from colleagues
Ken Dobinson, last Director of DMR, described Mike as the last of the competent senior officers in the NSW road authority – he, unfortunately for him, made decisions.
Matthew Wilson summarises the thoughts of many by stating “It really is tragic that Mike has been taken from us so soon. Have to agree with all the good things said about him. A good friend, a fine leader, a gentleman, a real people person, kind, considerate, enthusiastic, fearless, always entertaining, with a great font of anecdotes. And then there was a tale from his time as Traffic Commander for The Rocks area during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Mike took on Lord Mayor Frank Sartor over some parking restrictions. He won the day, as he had to, and took great pride in the fact that afterwards Sartor referred to him as "that f***ing fascist".
John W Booth
Mike received loyalty from staff, because he gave it first and was prepared to stand up for his principles, against "the powers that be". Also he never forgot those who had helped him in the past, regardless of relative position.
Robert Picone, expressed the view of many who worked under Mike leadership when he says that he was a real people person and I place him as one of 2 of the best bosses I’ve ever had. Similarly, Lindy Gerke, states Mike was a fantastic boss, a considerate person, and courageous in standing up for what he believed in. It's tragic to have lost him so soon.
Andrew King of The Hills Shire Council as many of his colleagues in other Councils recalls Mike as a good bloke and a friend in the RTA/RMS when we needed him.
David Brown, Life Member and Past National President - AITPM remembers Mike as being always incredibly enthusiastic about doing what was right. Strong in his opinions and often with an anecdote of previous experience.
Mike was a friend and colleague to many of us, far too young to depart. He had a lot more to give. Let’s remember the good times.
On behalf of the AITPM, our sincere condolences on Mike's passing to his dear wife and family. May he rest and peace and they receive comfort from the high esteem in which Mike is held.
Rest in peace, Mike, it was indeed a privilege to have known you.
Foundation committee member of the AITPM in 1981-1983.
Co- Editor first AITPM Newsletter
Great supporter of the profession and the role of AITPM in this regard.