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Don`t believe the hype
Russell Degnan

Businesses in Australia have garnered a reputation over the years as being short-sighted and risk-averse; always willing to let international trends dictate where they should go, instead of driving forward. Which is not to say they don't recognise these trends in advance, that they don't see opportunities, or that there isn't the talent to innovate.

Take the proposed new convention centre:

Business groups have lobbied for years for a new convention venue, arguing that Melbourne's existing 1500-seat centre is hopelessly outdated.

and, from here:

The bureau has identified another 76 conferences with more than 1500 delegates that it could bid for in the next five years. These conferences are worth about $823 million.

Apparently, there is money to made in hosting conferences, and a lot of it.


It is popular these days for the government to engage in public-private partnerships, getting the private sector to operate services in the public interest. The new conference centre - if it is built - will be one of these. The major investors and the government will stand where it will be built and announce what a great thing it will be for all Victorians; because of the economic benefits it will bring to the state, and how government and big business are coming together in partnership bringing the best of both worlds.


There is an inconsistency here though; business thinks it will be a good idea, business stands to reap the rewards of it being built, business recognises this as a sound investment in the future.

But, for some reason, until government tells them that they are standing there, ready to pick up the pieces in the unlikely event that they are wrong, business cannot get the funds together themselves. With the government it is easy, because there is (in theory) no risk, the government can't fail - if it has money troubles it will just tax the rest of us into the ground.

In other words, because business in this country is short-sighted and risk averse, we, the tax-payer are going to give them a handout. Instead of rewarding the entrepreneur willing and able to run a major conference centre that everyone agrees Melbourne needs; we are rewarding the weak and spineless, who, despite those faults are extremely good at taking the government for a ride.

This conference centre might be a good idea, but it doesn't need the government to fund it, back it, or build it. Business is quite capable of doing that on its own. And if it isn't then perhaps it is time that this country had businessmen who will.

General 21st April, 2004 00:52:16   [#] 

Comments

Great rant Russ
You're absolutely right.

These bloody corporate bludgers should stop bleeding the tax-payer's money dry. They should get off their fat, white arses and take some initiative!
Aaron Hewett  21st April, 2004 23:33:22  


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