It surprised me today to see that Gladys Berejiklian (NSW Premier) wants to use BREXIT as an opportunity for NSW to become “the manufacturing capital of Australia”. The article I read (in the Sydney Morning Herald) was a bit vague on details but it does mention “high tech, defence and space industries”.
Of course, with my particular set of stripes, I would prefer a greener focus. But from a purely economic perspective, this seems like good, strong leadership and I will be fascinated to see what evolves out of it. Can a state Premier show the nouse and budgetary vigour which our Federal leaders seem to lack? I don’t know how often state leaders cast their eyes to international horizons but to me this seems unusual and very interesting.
In a previous blog, I have mentioned Nugget’s News. When I shared the original January economic update which so alarmed and impressed me, quite a few friends said I should be careful to check the sources. I’m sure they were right but it would have required watching the video again to find out what the sources were and I never did get around to it.
Coincidentally, last week I absorbed two Richard Fidler interviews in quick succession relating to the Royal Commission into the four big banks. The second one was with Dan Ziffer – the fledgling ABC Business Reporter who was given the massive task of reporting on the 2018 Royal Commission. He comments that, when it started, most people thought it would be a boring, dry year of figures, paperwork and auditing type conversations. Very few realised what a dramatic set of revelations was about to come to light.
Anyway, the reason I bring Mr Ziffer into this blog, is that he made several off-the-cuff remarks, during the interview, which resonated strongly with me because of Nugget’s News. Ziffer mentions that the Australian economy is held up almost solely by “homes and holes” – that is to say by property investment and mining booms. He talks about the dominance of the finance industry in our biggest businesses – the top five wealthiest businesses include the four big banks. This supports what I learned on Nugget’s News about the lack of diversity in our economy and the listing of Australia’s top ten businesses which were mostly either in Finance or retail giants like Wesfarmers and Woolworths. There was one high tech company in the list, if I remember correctly, and no manufacturing.
Nugget’s News adds on to these “facts” the idea that big business and property investment are irretrievably linked and the fall of one will inevitably deeply impact the other.
So this is why I am intrigued by Ms Berejiklian’s optimistic and opportunistic view of Australia’s future after BREXIT. Even if I don’t necessarily like the exact direction of her focus, I am excited by “something different” in the way of economic leadership. It seems to me that the NSW Premier has leapt into a vacuous space and made matter.
Will it be a Big Bang or a Fizzle? I can’t wait to find out.