If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less. 

I’ve always admired this quote by General Eric Shinseki. It’s been a useful reminder for me over the years to embrace things as they appear. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve sometimes struggled to embrace changes but I’ve always been open to new ideas.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to present on ABC radio based on another blog: Australia’s digital economy – it’s time to pull our socks up. It was a great privilege to be able to go into more depth on this issue. I made several comments about the apathy of the digital economy in Australia and the approaches we need to take. I had some ‘colourful feedback’ on my thoughts about jobs of the future, in particular I was told ‘loud and clear’ that some jobs should be protected through government regulation.

I remain very sensitive to the plight of those who are seeing their jobs disappear due to digital change. More could and should be done to support those impacted. My focus on the digital economy is a genuine belief that we (all of us) should be doing more to create jobs and prosperity. I am waving the flag of disruption to create debate, a debate we need as a matter of urgency.

The fact remains, market controls do not help innovation. The more market controls in place, the more disruption we will see. Innovation succeeds because it meets market demand. There is a time and place for government controls but it should be designed to support growth, not stifle it. The overwhelming evidence leaves little wriggle room for debate beyond emotional rhetoric.

The car industry was heavily subsidised over the last 10 years. Holden received about $1.8 billion and Ford received an estimated $1.1 billion[1]. Despite the staggering amount of funding, they failed to change or innovate; the jobs losses could have been prevented. Prior to 1990, the airline industry of Australia was heavily regulated and controlled by the government. It was expensive, heavily subsidised and was marked by poor performance. Deregulation has seen massive innovation occur, safety improve, costs decrease and air travel open to all.

Change is inevitable, you need to prepare. Spending time throwing stones at a market disrupter will only prolong the agony of the slow death of your business model. Despite all the debate about ride sharing and taxis, the Queensland State Government economics[2] again leave little wriggle room for debate beyond emotional rhetoric. The report from the Economic Policy Group of the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet highlights the restriction of taxi supply to the market can relate to decreasing tourism, an increase in driving under the influence, worsened road congestion and reduced economic activity – jobs.

As a country we’ve got to find a balance, this cannot and must not be about the left or right of politics. This is about the future prosperity of a great country that needs political leaders to show real vision. This is about a broad-base tax system that raises enough revenue to provide services to the most vulnerable in society and helping those less fortunate than Australia. This is about compromise on some major economic issues to ensure that those impacted by change are not made irrelevant and those introducing change are made to feel welcome.

Don’t let Australia become irrelevant, embrace the change.


[1] http://theconversation.com/factcheck-do-other-countries-subsidise-their-car-industry-more-than-we-do-16308

[2] http://www.premiers.qld.gov.au/right-to-info/disclosure-log/assets/disclosure-log-entry-RTID279-part-2.pdf (Page 73 – 76 of RTI document).

Neil Glentworth
Executive Chairman