Last week I was fortunate to be invited to be part of the launch of a new business on Kangaroo Island, which is in my electorate.

Taking a problem and turning it into a solution, Kangaroo Island is using it's distance from the mainland

Kangaroo Island is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, it is frontier country. 

But the very thing that makes it so beautiful for the hundreds of thousands of tourists is the same thing that makes it so challenging for its residents and its economy.

Kangaroo Island is a giant land mass, some 4,500 square kilometres taking about two hours to drive from one end to another.  It is home to about 4,000 islanders and is most famously known for its natural tourism.  Some 60 per cent of international visitors to South Australia are there to visit KI.

But while tourism is its most publicly acknowledged industry, agriculture has always been the mainstay of the island economy consisting of mainly cropping and aquaculture. 

But the problem has always been that the 14 kilometre water gap has made the cost of doing business so much more than mainland competitors, making it very difficult to do business and remain competitive.

Enter Duncan MacGillivray, a South Australian business legend of ‘Two Dogs’ alcoholic lemonade fame. 

Duncan was approached by a group of Kangaroo Island grain growers last year who had a fledgling relationship with a Japanese buying group who sought ‘GM Free’ products.  Given the fact that KI is an island, it can very confidently say that it is ‘GM Free’, for once turning the water gap into an opportunity, not a problem.

The very capable farmers on KI knew that had an opportunity, they just didn’t necessarily have the know-how to get the best from the deal.  Then they met with Duncan.

With the skill and cunning that makes our country so special, he developed ‘KI Pure Grain’ and began to make arrangements with the buyers in Japan.  He worked with the government authorities to get the best deal on the infrastructure and he managed the process of accessing the funds from the bank, a hurdle many other small businesses have failed in recent times. 

KI Pure Grain has worked out transport deals with local transport companies and with the ferry company Sealink which has put on an additional ferry to cart the special containers.  It has given these KI farmers the scale they didn’t have previously meaning their costs are reduced. 

So the venture has begun and with this year looking like being a boom year for the crops on the Island, the tea leaves look good. 

Now this all sounds terribly easy but really we know it’s not.  It takes courage, faith and ingenuity.  But most importantly it highlights that great Australian entrepreneurial spirit that makes our country the undoubted success story it is today.  Where people like Duncan MacGillivray and the grain farmers of KI are encouraged to take a chance in search of a better tomorrow.

I tell this story because to me is shows why governments place is never at the centre of the economy. 

The Government could never have delivered this opportunity.  It can be an enabler.  For instance as part of this deal the Trade Commission in Japan worked very successfully to ensure that the mutual understanding of the deal was delivered.

This deal highlights the stark difference between the reality of our economy and that of Kevin Rudd’s new economic doctrine.

Kevin Rudd has been arguing since the beginning of the global economic downturn that governments know best and should remain at the centre of the economy.

He argues that a bunch of bureaucrats know how to spend other people’s money better than they do.

This is simply wrong.

Governments that spend borrowed money on questionable projects are bound to fail our economy and the people they represent.

The government’s role is to facilitate opportunities for the Duncan MacGillivray’s of our country to create wealth, jobs and opportunities for now and the future.

The Rudd approach is bound to fail not just now but for future generations.

Create the circumstances for the entrepreneur to shine and our future will be brighter.

Most commented


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    • iansand says:

      07:22am | 08/10/09

      I missed Mr Rudd saying this:

      “Kevin Rudd has been arguing since the beginning of the global economic downturn that governments know best and should remain at the centre of the economy.”

      Can you provide a source?

    • David says:

      07:40am | 08/10/09

      You had me with the first 2 paragraphs, and then started on party politics.  Is it not possible to write a story about a local success without taking a swipe at your political enemies?


    • Liz says:

      07:48am | 08/10/09

      Yep 0/10 for this piece.Must try harder.Too much rhetoric and axe-grinding.Just concentrate on high-lighting the entrepreneurial spirit of the KI farmers who are out for the big buck.

    • Craig Lambie says:

      08:08am | 08/10/09

      I have to disagree with the other commentors, obviously this article was on Government, and Entrepreneurialism, read the Headline.
      And I also agree with the point of view portrayed.  Govt, any, should not play a role in the economy.  The can simply facilitate it.
      The fact that we hold them accountable for a poor economy, or a reward them for a good one is ridiculous.
      Enabling business people like MacGillivray and myself to prosper is why why we should reward them.  Representing our views is why we should reward them.  Not playing “party” politics is why we should reward our individual representatives.

    • Darren says:

      09:19am | 08/10/09

      have to agree with IanSand - when and where did Rudd make that statement?

    • iansand says:

      09:48am | 08/10/09

      Craig Lambie@9:08 I don’t think anyone is disagreeing with you.  What I, and perhaps others, disagree with is the party political slant.  Does anyone seriously believe that the ALP is still a socialist party?  Attempting to make this party political is time warp stuff, and is part of the politics of fear that makes the Liberals irrelevant at the moment.  At the last election Howard tried to whip up some electorate frighteners and failed.  The Liberals have not learned that lesson.

    • Patrick says:

      09:53am | 08/10/09

      Government’s job is to regulate the economy because….and this may come as a shock to some of you…THERE ARE IDIOTS AND CROOKS OUT THERE IN THE WORLD. It’s job is to make sure these groups of people don’t bring the economy crashing down and ruin it for the rest of us.

      The unmitigated failure of the US authorities and libertarian fundamentalists like Alan Greenspan to properly regulate the system is what caused the global economy to go haywire and very nearly sink into a second global depression, because they all operated on the priori assumption that “the market always knows best”.
      It is inspiring that there are people with so much faith in humanity, but not everybody out there has such a rational mind as you or I Mr Briggs.

      “Kevin Rudd has been arguing since the beginning of the global economic downturn that governments know best and should remain at the centre of the economy.

      He argues that a bunch of bureaucrats know how to spend other people’s money better than they do.”

      When did Kevin Rudd directly argue those things?

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      10:19am | 08/10/09

      I’m sure the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths and all the banks would agree with you. The government should keep out of the economy and let them rip off the consumer. Epic fail on this article for intellectual content.

    • Russ says:

      04:50pm | 08/10/09

      But you have just shown how the assistance of the Rudd government in the form of our trade commission was a very important part of this success.  You dill.

    • Trev says:

      08:57pm | 29/01/11

      I’m somewhat puzzled by the implication in your headline that there must of necessity be on-going competiton between government and private enterprise. It seems to me that the private sector needs/uses government services (can you give me an example of an enterprise that does not Jamie?) and that the government needs a dynamic private sector in place for a whole host of reasons - such as providing employment and paying taxes.

      Craig Lambie
      “Govt, any, should not play a role in the economy”.
      I was quite taken aback by this suggestion Craig. Perhaps the production and distribution of goods is best left to the private sector, but which services would you prefer the government to get out of? We should perhaps privatise the police force? Or totally privatise the education sector? Or perhaps the military?

      Your comment reminds me of a science student who, when asked to define a catalyst, says that “a catalyst speeds up a chemical reaction, but without taking part in the reaction”. His statement would be both absurd and illogical.


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