Entrepreneurial spirit beats government every time
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.
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.
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