$378 million sounds like a lot of money, right? It’s a catchy headline and looks great on a Sunday press release from Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan and his colleague Greg Combet. Don’t get me wrong, their new $378 million program to foster innovation was a good start albeit several years late.
You see the press and the tech communities have been arguing for several years that the local technology ecosystem needs help…and quite frankly Deputy Prime Minister; $378 million ain’t going to cut the mustard.
There are some fundamental challenges domestic startups are facing and many of them can’t be solved with government funds alone. While chucking taxpayer funds at a problem (that is quickly firming as an election issue) might be a tempting solution, what Australia desperately needs is long-term thinking and strong leadership.
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The Americans call it Monday morning quarterbacking, describing the self-appointed experts who stand back after the event and sagely offer their wisdom as to how a game was won or lost.
The Monday morning quarterbacks have been out in earnest in Australia the past few days gloating over the (apparent) failure of Click Frenzy, the biggest retail experiment our country has ever seen, in which some of the nation’s biggest stores tried to fight back against lethal competition from foreign-based online stores.
The fact that the website crashed unleashed a wave of ridicule and, bizarrely enough, genuine anger towards the stores themselves and the operators of Click Frenzy.
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It is immodest to say I told you so. So let’s move on…
The board of the Reserve Bank has sent a clear message with yesterday’s cut to the official cash rate: it’s time to start preparing for the end of the mining investment boom, which, crucially, is going to arrive sooner than expected.
Yesterday’s board meeting was a closely watched and hotly contested affair among economists and mortgage holders alike. Three members of News Ltd’s “Shadow RBA” had tipped a rate cut, while five of the remaining six were tipping a Melbourne Cup day move.
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Today is a day to reflect on the progress made towards equality for women, but it is also a day to consider the road ahead.
We know that women are innovators who are increasingly making a serious impact in industry and in business.
This is backed up by findings of the first national survey of women business owners and female entrepreneurs released this week.
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Australian governments have a long history of offering taxpayers’ money to private businesses in an effort to get them to come or stay. Liberal and Country League Premier Tom Playford elevated it to an art form after 1945 when he set out to build an industrial and manufacturing base in South Australia. Tax holidays, grants, cheap land, incentives, and cheap public housing for the industrial workforces through the Housing Trust.
In fact, the use of public money to convince car-makers goes back even further. My attention was drawn to a question asked in the South Australian Legislative Council on 14 August 1935. The LCL government was asked “what steps has the government taken to encourage General Motors Holdens Limited to remain in South Australia?” The answer: “The government is much concerned about the possibility of losing that industry and is doing everything possible to retain it”.
That question and answer could describe the current decision-making process concerning both GMH and Ford. The Federal, Victorian and South Australian governments are embroiled in trying to work out just how much taxpayer money will be needed to keep both functioning in Australia.
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Alongside coal, steelmaking has dominated the Illawarra economy for the better part of a century. The industrial landscape of Port Kembla continues to define the lives of the people that work and live in its shadow, the people that I represent in the federal electorate of Throsby.
When I left high school in the early eighties, the Steelers NRL team was still running around in the top flight (before merging with St George), and many of my mates took up apprenticeships with the company that sponsored the famous scarlet jersey, BHP Steel.
We were a steel city, a proud working-class town, just like our sister city of Newcastle. In many respects we still are. But just like Newcastle and in the other manufacturing regions around Australia at that time, the ground was already shifting under our feet.
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Have you heard of Changsha, Chengdu and Chongqing? How about Wuhan or Weifang? Indeed try a little test: name seven cities in China … you can even count Hong Kong.
To my shame, I was unaware of any of these places before I set off for China last week. I was also unable to name seven Chinese cities.
As a late ring in for our Foreign Minister – who had something on even closer to his heart than China – I joined Trade Minister Craig Emerson in leading a trade delegation to China of a hundred Australian businesses.
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Like anyone else, Australians are keen to pick up a bargain.
Our grocery aisles are filled with premium brand products alongside their cheaper cousins. We like to get the best deal when we’re buying an appliance, building our homes or fuelling our cars.
And let’s face it, while we all like to buy Australian made, we mostly consider the origin of products after we’ve checked the price tag. Who can blame us? We’ve all got families to feed and bills to pay. And a dollar only goes so far.
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It’s hard to know what the live animal export industry is more concerned about.
The fact that Australian animals are being tortured in Indonesia, or the fact that Australians now know that Australian animals are being tortured in Indonesia.
I have long been opposed to the live animal export industry.
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A delegation of Australian MPs has been given permission to inspect the New Zealand apple industry - as long as they don’t go near any apple trees.
Instead, they have been invited to tour New Zealand dairy farms, according to the chairman of a parliamentary committee.
The restrictions are the latest flare-up in the battle over fire blight, an agricultural disease which could destroy entire orchards.
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The carbon debate at the moment is a bit like the story of Chicken Little. Just as Chicken Little declared that the sky was falling, we’re seeing a lot of people in the business community claiming that the introduction of a carbon price will spell disaster for Australian exports, jobs and industries.
(We cheated here and went for the Hokey Pokey rather than Henny Penny. But the clip is worth a re-visit.)
BHP Billiton and Xstrata want protection on coal exports; BlueScope Steel and OneSteel want steel manufacturing exempted from a carbon price; Woodside Petroleum want LNG exports to be exempted from a carbon price. To top it off, we’ve had the Australian Workers Union declare its opposition if a single job is lost as a result of a carbon price. And the Australian Food and Grocery Council is now calling for exemptions and running the line that food prices will rise.
You would be forgiven for thinking the Chicken is right.
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Have a guess how many of Australia’s top 50 companies have at their very heart a good idea.
Not mineral resources, selling other people’s goods or repackaging money in increasingly intricate ways, but an actual good idea which spawned the genesis of a new business.
It’s a pretty easy answer - none.
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WHO’D be a business owner in Australia?
With the way the Federal Government up-ends the apple cart every few months you’d have to have a thick skin, and a thick wallet, to want to have a crack at increasing the nation’s prosperity.
One of my mates runs a solar energy company - an occupation unrivalled in its capacity to guarantee you endless sleepless nights, wondering when the Federal Government will deliver its next windfall, followed by a swift kick in the guts.
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Up to the minute Twitter chatter
Apple "quietly negotiated" a corporate tax rate of 2 per cent with the Irish government http://t.co/FFIHgqLFOA
Bomb-sniffing Navy dolphins? Sure, we have them http://t.co/AfRKtMjZNG
@mitchellhaywood Glad to hear you enjoyed it and best of luck with your adventure you have lots to look forward to!
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