How to future proof Australia

If firms with less than 10 employees were given access to tax credits for genuine investment in new technology and venture capital funds for born global activities and rewarded for taking on productive labour, Australia would be future proofed beyond the

Colin Benjamin

By Colin Benjamin

The RBA board has demonstrated its capacity to withstand political pressure to cut rates and made the Aussie dollar one of the most sought after currencies during the sub-prime crunch. Suddenly the somnambulant economists have woken up to the fact that consumers have reduced their discretionary expenditure, sent the retailers a message to cut imports, and given the nation a rare positive balance of trade.

An examination of the Morgan Consumer Confidence index over the past year shows that once again the best indicator of future market behaviour comes from an examination of household expectations. All around the world both business and consumer confidence indicators are falling back to levels before the smart money decided to create new forms of liquidity.

Now is the time for Glenn Stevens to again show the courage of his commitment to steady hands upon long term inflationary constraints and help Wayne and Lindsay keep their promise to maintain downward pressure on the cost of living. Unless the BRIC economies release their massive surge and drive for commodities over the coming year, we could easily revert to the historic and damaging boom and bust cycle.

Around the world the public, if not yet the Australian Opposition, has come to see that there must be a shift in fuel consumption, recognition of the reality of climate change and a move to voluntary simplicity.

All of the central banks are finally coming to the conclusion that sinking more and more investment funds into housing construction, large gas-guzzling Hummers and inefficient retail investments has done nothing for national savings and long-term reconstruction of infrastructure, health education and innovative production systems.

In the next few weeks Terry Cutler’s Innovative National Report may be the necessary tyre lever that removes the hub cap of slow rates of technological innovation and shifts debate – or an alternative demand for responsive sustainable development strategy. The SmartCompany Forum following the 2020 summit we had to have pointed to the need for a new national agenda that addresses issues of entrepreneurship and excellence.

It’s all well and of course very good to put a computer in every kid’s lap, but without a shift towards business management and creative innovation skills, the only result will be greater access to more of the same thinking on software that feeds our balance of payment difficulties.

A steady hand at the RBA should now encourage strategic thinking, creativity and import substitutions by the home based and SMEs that build on the nation’s cultural diversity, increases social inclusion and slowly shifts taxation to the smarties who make nothing by speculating on rate changes and cutting the limiting hand of payroll tax on small business that grows the nation.

If firms with less than 10 employees were given access to tax credits for genuine investment in new technology, venture capital funds that enable them to focus upon “born global” business activities and rewarded for taking on productive labour, Australia would be future proofed beyond the resources boom.

When the federal and state governments follow that lead from the RBA and actively follow up the education and health revolutions with a business development revolution, it will be possible to redirect scarce capital from domestic consumption to nation building to convert our short term export boom into sustainable industrial scale production. This is the way to shift the emphasis from retail imports to viable small and medium enterprise development.

 

Dr Colin Benjamin is Entrepreneurship and Strategic Thinking Consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Contact: CEO Dr Jane Shelton. 

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