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The Resolution

Have we squandered our great Australian opportunity?

In the absence of government leadership, it’s time for companies to stand up and ensure future Australian prosperity Is Australia squandering our great opportunity? Over the past year I can’t help but feel we are missing major opportunities to...

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In the absence of government leadership, it’s time for companies to stand up and ensure future Australian prosperity

Is Australia squandering our great opportunity? Over the past year I can’t help but feel we are missing major opportunities to do the right thing by our country and the world. On both social and economic issues, I feel like we’re falling behind.

A few examples that continue to frustrate me:

  • We're backsliding on gender equity.
  • On the economic front, our government is yet to really make progress in removing regulatory constraints, lowering company tax rates and finding direct ways to support our quest for international markets.

Instead of beating my head up against a brick wall, I think it’s time for companies to lead the agenda. The business community must stand up and take a greater role in helping Australia fulfil its potential.

We can’t wait for the government any longer

It’s not easy to see where the natural source of growth for our economy is. We need major retooling to enable our workforce to play well in the new economy.

While we’ve been waiting for the government to do something about this, businesses like Uber have created new business models and different ways of working.  They have taken work and split it up into pieces – “fractionalizing” the work and the workforce. They’re moving well ahead of the agreements, regulations and frameworks that exist to support our workers. We can’t wait any longer.

If we’re going to get back on an even keel, meet the growth challenges of the new economy and be a successful, inclusive and happy place, then business needs to take the lead on social and economic issues.

It’s time to start believing that there is a tomorrow and planning for our grandchildren’s grandchildren rather than waiting for government reform.

To ensure Australian prosperity, businesses must look offshore

A big part of Australia fulfilling its potential is identifying where we’re going to find sustainable growth. We're currently in a difficult low-growth environment full of headwinds.

International companies look at our markets and see 24 million highly educated people conveniently packaged into five cities around the coastal fringe. It’s certainly an attractive market - we have high income per capita, high disposable income and we spend like crazy. This makes us very attractive to offshore providers. But I'm yet to see any real response from companies to fight and defend our markets.

The institutional skills of our nation and big corporates are not responding fast enough to globalisation. We've always been an open economy but we still aren’t deploying solid skills to enable us to play on the global stage. It’s like we've almost convinced ourselves that our domestic market is big enough when it's clearly not.

There is a very strong perception, true in some sectors, that Australian companies aren't able to go offshore. It’s often just a twinkle in the eye of a CEO -  they give it a go for five or six years and then the next CEO dismantles it. However, some of our industrial companies have done very well in the United States and South American markets.

But all Australian companies need to explicitly consider how they can commercialise their products and services internationally. They need to stop and think about what it would take, what it would look like and whether they have something that is truly distinctive.

Australian companies must realise that finding success in global markets is also a domestic risk management issue. If you do something that plays well in the domestic market but it isn’t distinctive globally then Amazon or another global player will turn up, do it better and destroy your domestic market. If you want to future-proof your ability to continue to serve your domestic customers you will need to have offerings that are internationally competitive.

Ultimately, government spending will not build an export facing economy that is capable of delivering sustainable growth. The buck stops with our businesses. Larger businesses will always easier access to capital and skills so they must be at the forefront of transforming our economy. The government can play a supporting and facilitating role, but it is time for business to take the lead in building a prosperous future for all of us.

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