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FEATURE vision wa 2040
Sixty per cent of the world’s population
lies within plus or minus one hour of
our time zone. I think we’re going to see an
increasing number of people from Asia visiting
here, buying property here and living here
at times. Companies will realise this is a very
convenient location to be in the same time zone,
with European/American companies realising
this is a society where they would be comfortable
housing people and basing their regional offices.
That Asian time zone is really important, and
by default we become less dependent on and
connected with the other Australian states.
I think the Square Kilometre Ar ray
(SKA) is going to give rise to an influx
of technical people and knowledge in
mathematics, computing, astronomy and
physics. We have to build the biggest computer
in the world to service the SKA and I think
the universities here have a real opportunity to
become world centres in those sorts of fields.
The Forrest Foundation [being administered by
UWA with the goal of attracting the brightest
young minds from around the world as part of
a plan to establish Perth and Western Australia
as an international knowledge and innovation
hub] is an exciting prospect.
Education itself has huge potential here
with Asia. Already universities are sourcing
on average around 25 per cent of their students
from overseas and I think that will increase. At
the moment, WA punches well below its weight
in numbers of students from China. There’s
a big emphasis on Singapore and Malaysia, but
not on China, which dominates enrolments in
other states, so that’s likely to increase.
Cost is a huge issue and problem here.
Things like penalty rates just can’t survive in
a globalised world. What I’d like to see is
a totally open, transparent, flexible economy
and that means having the sort of workplace
relations that exist in most other western
economies – flexible arrangements, individual
agreements between employers and employees.
Penalty rates are an example. It is inconceivable
that people will be paid three times as much on
a Sunday than on a Friday.
When tariff reductions were mooted
a few years back, people who were
benefitting from them objected because
they were going to suffer, but it was good
for the whole economy. Reducing tariffs
increased the efficiency of our economy, created
more employment, more prosperity and so on.
It’s the same with penalty rates. Anyone working
on a Sunday now by choice, and getting paid
$51 an hour, will scream blue murder at the
thought of them being reduced. But it means
higher employment, higher productivity and
efficiency in the economy and tourism, and it
It’s more than wage rates, it’s
productivity. When Rio introduced
individual contracts in 1996, they found
the productivity increases they got
were way above what they expected
because once they took the union out of
the equation, employee and employer
started talking. The employee would say,
‘Well you think that was good, why don’t we
try this?’ and they started innovating and
they got big increases in productivity. If you
reinsert the union, the employee stands back
and doesn’t have to think of anything. You can’t
go on like that. Productivity is what it’s all about
in our economy as a whole and unless we get
that right, we’re actually going to have a lower
standard of living than we ought to have in
another 30 years.
The land issue is a really important one.
The supply of residential land, the time
it takes to get approvals and the costs
involved, makes the cost of housing
a heck of a lot harder here than in most
par ts of the world. That then has effects on
economic growth, consumption in the economy
because people don’t have the money they
would otherwise have. The supply side of the
housing issue is a huge issue that needs tackling
It needs political leadership to say, "This
is what we’re doing". Time will tell. Some
of the things Tony Abbott has done have shown
political leadership, such as not bailing out SPC
or providing guarantees to Qantas. But it’s a big
challenge to do something about it.
MICHAEL CHANEY – CHAIRMAN OF NAB AND WOODSIDE
Optimistically, Perth will be an international, cosmopolitan city with a great lifestyle and strong service industries, including
those servicing a very strong resources industry. It will be a vibrant, exciting place to live, seen around the world as an
outstanding city. For business, it will be recognised as a ‘can do’ place, not shackled by conventional wisdoms and
constraints but where people are creative and innovative, and I think there’s a certain element of that already. It ought to be
a centre for education and research. Pessimistically, it will be a gridlocked city if we don’t do a long-term transport plan, and
it will be a city people decide they can’t base themselves in because it’s just too logistically difficult to get anywhere. I think
that’s a real possibility, but it’s all avoidable.
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