Currently, I am in Europe where I have noticed that the development of the digital economy is progressing rapidly. Seeing the state of play over here has promoted the discussion of how Australia is handling this and what needs to happen or change in Australia to keep up.
With this in mind, I strongly agree with the speech made by Paul Keating, our former Prime Minister and Treasurer, recently delivered to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). He considered it one of his more important speeches in decades when he stated that “it was of little use to look backwards because such nostalgia “is not going to advance us” in the digital age”.
Rather than harping on about eras past, he said the country needed “a new golden age” of reform driven by these present realities and pushed by political leaders who possessed the vision to conceptualise beyond the constraints of the public service.
“Changes on a canvas of this kind are not going to drop from any department. You will not find them falling from a Treasury printer. Because of their essence, they require imagination, the principal tool that was employed in underwriting the ’80s and ’90s changes,” he said.
According to Mr Keating, governments are in danger of missing the turns and were already trailing consumers who have taken advantage of the greater choice and lower prices from the digital marketplace and “the smorgasbord of things on offer – and at their fingertips”.
“The wider phase, the grander phase, where even larger gains are to be had, is in the heavily government-influenced areas of health, aged care, education and human services,” he said.
“These are the reform horizons we should be concentrating on, and not the dross handed down from the Business Council … the whinging from the ACCIs of this world about penalty rates when the reality of static wages growth stares us in the face.”
Watch the entire speech here
Excerpts of this article have been pulled from an article that appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald
Photo – Former prime minister Paul Keating. Photo: Nic Walker