From the editor
Australia has a considerable amount of work to do in the competitive global marketplace if we want to secure our future economic prosperity.
The World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report for 2016-17 indicates that our nation has slipped one place to number 22 in the world, well behind even our trans-Tasman neighbour New Zealand (15th). Switzerland (1st), Singapore (2nd) and the US (3rd) remain the most competitive nations.
The report suggests that our major weaknesses are in restrictive labour regulations, inefficient government bureaucracy, high taxes, complex tax regulations and insufficient innovation.
Most of these subjects have been discussed ad nauseam, but the report suggests we are not making sufficient progress in these areas. Labour reforms and tax reform have been continual discussion points for many decades but remain weaknesses.
In the area of innovation, the Federal Government had made some commendable steps in the right direction and the Hunter itself is making some excellent strides, but are we making up sufficient ground on ever increasing innovation levels across the globe?
We all know that to prosper, Australia cannot continue to rely so heavily on our mining and agriculture sectors and must embrace new opportunities.
But the question must be asked if our politicians are really serious about addressing these issues, or simply make some changes when they feel sufficient political pressure.
To commence with, we need our leaders to accept the weaknesses in our economy and have the vision and will to put in place cohesive policy measures to help improve these areas.
Some bipartisan agreement between our major parties would be fantastic, even if in broad terms, but history suggests this is unlikely and their focus will remain more heavily focussed on themselves and their party than the future of our nation.
I would suggest that the only way it will truly happen is there is sufficient voter demand for it to happen. That political debate is not focussed on personalities, but on the bigger issues. That election campaigns are not dominated by destructive scare campaigns but with positive visions for the long term benefit of Australia.
The politicians seem unable to change by themselves, can we, the electorate, force some change?
A great start would be for a significant portion of the electorate to contact their local Federal member and ask them what their party’s vision for Australia in the next 10 years and what actions are they taking to make this happen. And we can’t be satisfied by airy fairy generalisations – we need specific answers.
Who wants to join me?