WHEN THE CHIEF Executive makes his annual policy address, I find myself treating it as a photographer might. First, the wide-angle view, elsewhere in today's newspaper, and then the telephoto lens treatment in this column. I cannot abide the ongoing destruction of our harbour waterfront but it does not bother Mr Tsang. He wants to push ahead again with the idea of building a big all-in-one government office complex on the empty site by Tamar. The upturn of our economy has made it possible, he said, and it will fill a practical need as well as 'create thousands of jobs badly needed by the construction industry'. I can understand the construction industry's plea for more work. As the chart shows, construction has never drawn so low a share of our gross domestic product as it does at present. Unemployment in the industry is still much higher than the Hong Kong average. But this may be inevitable anyway. Wealthier societies generally tend to spend less of their resources on construction than poorer ones. Perhaps it is time for the industry to recognise that things have changed with Hong Kong's achievement of wealth and for people contemplating jobs in construction to consider alternatives. If it is to be axiomatic, however, that we must not allow the decline of any industry we have ever had then let us have big official support for fishing and farming. They were there before construction. Ridiculous thought, I know. Fishing and farming are not represented in the Legislative Council. Construction has a key functional constituency seat. What I really fail to see, however, is why a big government complex must be built on our waterfront in order to create these construction jobs. If built elsewhere, it will create just as many of them. Assuming it is really needed, is it needed on the waterfront? Mr Tsang did not adduce much evidence for it in his policy address. His key argument was that it 'will facilitate the administration's closer interface with the legislature, and therefore enhance co-operation'. I think he is missing something here. The fact that his administration does not have a particularly close interface with legislators has nothing to do with its physical proximity to them. That proximity is plenty close enough at present anyway. The problem has more to do with the fact that legislators, at least the honestly elected ones, are elected by the public, which none of the real power holders in government has ever been. Naturally, the legislators are not happy with this arrangement. Bringing the two closer while this remains the case is less likely to enhance co-operation than make the sparks fly more furiously. Next we get the argument that the site has been approved by the Town Planning Board. Well, so what? If he picked another site, the board would probably give approval just as quickly. Did it say this was the best site? Then he argued that the site is 'consistent with the development of Central district and accords with the long-term public interest'. No, it does not. It entails yet more destruction of the waterfront for roadways to serve an overcrowded Central while the great majority of the public is clearly in favour of a green waterfront with more open-air leisure facilities. Central may be right for centralising the finance industry but this is no reason why government must be centralised there too. Few big cities make government sit right in their finance industry's lap. Finally, we get the argument that it will be cost-effective. Nonsense again. It can be so only in the sense that the alternative, a park, could never be rated cost-effective at all, at least not in straight money terms. But if it is cost-efficiency in straight money terms that Mr Tsang wants, then the most cost-effective way of using the site would be to sell it for development of an office building, using the proceeds to build government offices in a less pricey location. I think what it comes down to is simply that Mr Tsang does not like the older building he occupies and he wants a fancy new office. We all feel like that from time to time but, unlike him, we cannot just dip into someone else's pocket to pay for our foibles.