Breaking the national mould
Productivity and competitiveness need to be a long-term agenda, not a political one.
This is the message of the ‘Action Plan for a Stronger Economy’, launched yesterday by the Business Council of Australia.
It’s pleasing to note then, that one of the BCA’s nine key policy focuses outlined in the ambitious plan is creating the right environments to foster and drive innovation; the very element needed to transform the way we think about our economy.
If we want to diversify our markets and play to our strengths, then innovative thinking is critical. This – along with strong human capital, a robust private sector, and how well we are adopting and transforming with new technologies – is essential to the nation’s long-term growth.
More than this, innovation is about finding new pathways to reach a goal. From a policy perspective, this means moving away from the high-level, blanket approaches to productivity that have been adopted in the past, toward those that understand and reflect regional variation.
Our regions are not all the same, nor are the pathways we should take to unleash their potential.
Its time we recognize that the presence of industry, the strengths of natural resources, the availability of infrastructure, essential services and new technologies – these all play a part in what success looks like and how it can be achieved within each region. There is no one-size fits all approach to economic development.
Thankfully, we’re already one step ahead in the journey toward unlocking this complex landscape.
Last month, the Regional Australia Institute launched [In]Sight, the nation’s first online index and interactive map of regional competitiveness.
More than just mapping the drivers of productivity and competitiveness in each of Australia’s 560 Local Government Areas, [In]Sight is challenging the way we think about regional development, breaking the mould of policies driven by national and State averages.
It points to clear strengths in markets, the need for investment in research and development, the levels of local government support, the connectivity of businesses – all of which differ from region to region.
It’s this kind of thinking that should set the pace for changing the way our nation approaches the future, based on a level of clarity never before available.
If we work together, businesses and communities across regional, rural and remote Australia can capitalise on this information and unleash the enormous potential of the nation’s diverse landscape.
But only if we’re willing to think outside the national mould first.
This blog was written by the Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Australia Institute, Su McCluskey.