Rupert Murdoch addressed the Lowy institute overnight and his speech was one of hope, positivity and mapped out his ideas for Australia’s future prosperity.
The 21st century is Australia’s for the taking.
Australia should not be angst-ridden over its place in the world. Australia should seize its place in the world. We are not hapless victims of circumstance – we are people who define our own destiny.
Murdoch entreated Australia to be more like itself and promote Australian values as the nation is “on the cusp of becoming something rare and valuable in this new world: an egalitarian meritocracy, with more than a touch of libertarianism.”
But it was to the business community that he gave some strong advice – embrace disruption.
One of the few certainties we can have is that the 21st century will be a century of disruption. Australia must be the economy that thrives on disruption. Primarily we will do this through the key drivers of prosperity: trade, technology, and free markets.
Even though the debate rages about whether or not Australia should and will have a domestic car building industry, because Australia has “fewer huge industries demanding the government protections common in large industrial nations” it also has the freedom and is forced to think outside the box.
It was a wonderfully optimistic speech, a call to arms for Australian government and business. But as David Gonski said this week: “I think a problem in Australia is that we have the ability to start innovation but if you are innovative, you have to go continue it overseas.”
Indeed, Murdoch made this very point in his speech, noting some brilliant young Australian scientists funded into offshore positions in the United States.
Australia’s venture capital community has not taken kindly to Gonski’s remarks, especially his suggestion that the only places to take an innovative idea would be to wealthy friends or the CSIRO.
Yesterday Adrian Bunter of Sydney Angels wrote on Business Insider that Gonski was wrong about the lack of early-stage funding for startups.
Gareth Dando, a council member at AVCAL, the venture capital umbrella body in Australia – told Business Insider:
AVCAL agrees with the importance of long term investment horizons in the entrepreneurial development of new technologies. Such patient capital from local venture capital firms has supported the growth of many successful local companies such as Seek, Cochlear and SIRTeX, and continues to drive the latest wave of innovation. A greater focus on the long term economic benefits of technology can only help to grow the pool of such capital available to local start-ups.
Rupert Murdoch is likely to agree with this.
However it appears that the challenge for Australia – and for Murdoch and other business leaders – is to put some money where the rhetoric about Australia’s future lies.
That would be very disruptive here at home – it would be a good place to start.
You can read the full speech here