I recently finished reading a great book titled ‘Dog Days’ by Ross Garnaut. While it might have a fiction sounding title, it’s a non-fiction economic book. Ross Garnaut is very well known as a Professor, Government adviser and Board member of several well known Australian companies.
For some time I’ve held the same view as Mr Garnaut that Australia is now living a dream and we’ve become incredibly complacent especially since steering through the GFC almost unscathed. It seems that our nation has a feeling of invincibility and things are ‘different this time.’
Ross Garnaut’s analysis shows that we are at a tipping point where we will be confronted with making difficult national decisions based on outcomes for the good of everyone and not favoured groups. We’ve all benefited from a vastly higher standard of but unfortunately, much of this success has little to do with our work ethic or how smart we are but from the fortune of having resources and commodities that other nations have needed.
The resource cycle, since 2011, is now is steady decline. We’ve become far too dependent on exports and at the same time seen almost all other domestic non resource businesses struggle due to the expensive Australian dollar and high domestic costs. The complacency has resulted in much lower productivity for over a decade. It seems that you can hide behind inefficiency while times are good but eventually it catches up.
Unless we are lead, and accept to be lead, through this era of change, we are likely to realise lower living standards going forward. You could call this; pay back. If you think this isn’t possible ask middle class Americans or Europeans how different their lives are post 2008.
This might sound rather negative but Mr Garnaut’s (and my belief) is that we can avert the decline in living standards if we accept decisions that are in the common good of everyone. This will need a major shift in our thinking and attitudes and above all, true leadership in Government, business and the community.
While Mr Garnaut presents the bigger picture, it’s quite easy to identify with the complacency all around us. If you consider your own region, most of the EP has experienced an unprecedented ‘purple patch’ of above average seasons including higher grain prices, record sheep and wool prices. It can be easy to take the ‘eye off the ball’ and become more complacent. Nobody aims to be complacent but I suppose this is human nature. This is why it’s important, not only for our nation but as individuals to be aware and be prepared for the changes that will be forced upon us. It’s quite obvious that the Commonwealth Government is enacting major legislative changes because they know we’ve been living beyond our means.
My final note: History does repeat itself but the events and circumstances make things seem different or ‘different this time.’