There is a hot debate raging on a couple of LinkedIn Groups, one being Australian IT Industry and the other Australian Manufacturing Forum. From different angles, they are tackling the future of Australian industry and economy. There are plenty of valid opinions and some great ideas.
But here is the thing. Without a clear direction, i.e. Vision from the Government (potentially driven up from the industry grass-roots and the smart people we have around who have been evangelising an innovation culture for Australia), all efforts may be in vain.Governments, State and Federal, have been trying to bet on some popular horses in the past (biotech, nanotech, design…).
Success requires Vision for clear direction, Non-Negotiables (rules of the game that support the direction) and consistent education and facilitating industry access to enabling resources.
I have recently shared information on the German Mittelstand model from Prof Simmon (http://www.innofuture.com.au/in-search-of-a-winning-business-model-for-australia/) and here is an article that tackles just this issue for India – recommended reading – (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/asia-pacific/toward_a_uniquely_indian_growth_model?cid=reimagining_india-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1311)
Two different approaches – German, a home-grown, driven by pre-existing strengths and cultural capabilities that will succeed in almost every political environment – and Indian, where a major cultural and infrastructure transformation is required.
Australia is between the two, plus three degrees to the right, i.e. different. We need to find the right path and that is the challenge for the Government (Federal – we are too small to have successful economy be State-driven): What do we want to be as a Nation? Where are our strengths? What do we need to focus on to preserve, defend and improve? And, where the Government needs to set the enabling environment – with the right ‘Champions’ in place to re-iterate the principles and inspire and influence cross-industry collaboration – and step back to focus on building a society that will support this economy of the future.
Just to clarify the “building a society”: we need a society with best teachers to produce the best trained people; we need a healthy society; and we need to have a society and an economy independent from BAD foreign investment. Not all foreign investment is right for this country. Tough rules the government needs to make include: NO foreign ownership of our natural resources, or any land (including farms and crops). This can only end badly.