The competitive world of the globalised economy places enormous performance pressures on leaders in both the public and the private sectors.
Private sector managers have a duty to their shareholders to achieve mastery of all elements of the business environment that impact on the corporation’s business opportunities.
Globalisation has been accompanied and enabled by a great deal of privatisation, deregulation and economic reform, yet government remains a key element of the business environment. The influence of government remains pervasive throughout the developed and developing world, and has been complicated by new and emerging issues – national security concerns, corporate governance abuses and the emerging pattern of new trade agreements to name but three.
At the same time, new procurement demands by government, either through the outsourcing of existing functions and processes or to meet new government needs, and new government programs, are creating major new opportunities for business.
In this environment, all business leaders have a requirement to deal expertly with government as legislator and regulator, with government as program and service deliverer, and with government as customer. An insider’s view of government processes and requirements is an indispensable part of the business armoury.
For their part, public sector managers must conduct their business in such a manner as to minimise the effect of regulation and of business processes on Australian business, and to deliver on the government’s undertakings to business concerning transparency, probity and equity of access for competent providers, whether they be Australian or foreign owned, large businesses or SMEs. They must have the capability to engage effectively with their private sector clients and providers. In many cases this vital capability can come only from a current and well-informed understanding which cannot be obtained solely from formal meetings, social intercourse or the daily media.
On both sides of the public-private sector divide, a high level capacity to deal with the other is an essential tool for strategic success.
Unimpressed with the standard of contemporary political debate in Australia, the Board of Australia21 has become increasingly concerned that a number of grave challenges are being ignored, bypassed or placed in the “too hard” basket, and that there is no sign of this changing as we head into vitally important national elections.
Accordingly, we commissioned a series of essays by a number of Australia21 Directors, Fellows, Associates and other contributors, which draw attention to threats arising from global change. These are threats that all Australians will need to manage in the near future, and need to be thinking about now. The resulting publication is available for download from our website.
We hope that this series of essays will help to stimulate a constructive discussion between voters and political aspirants from all parties about the kind of Australia we will leave to our children in an increasingly hazardous, globalised and resource-constrained world.
We think political parties should take a long-term view when they frame policies to put to the Australian people. When they propose new policies, they should be expected to explain how sustainable they would be in the long term, and how they would fit into a longer-term context. We wonder whether politicians are acting responsible when they imply that Australians in full-time employment are “doing it tough” – “tough” against what benchmark, exactly?
So what do we propose? As a response to the concerns raised in these essays, we are posing a series of questions under twelve themes for consideration by voters across Australia.
They are not the only questions that come to our minds, but they are some of the more important ones, and if these twelve questions clusters can become part of the political discourse in the lead-up to the election of our next government, this small volume will have served a valuable purpose.
You might like to put some of these questions to our political leaders and your local candidates:
On my personal blog Australian Observer i post comments and analysis on a variety of subjects of interest to me, covering defence, international affairs, photos of interest, recollections of people and events, and more. Some posts that remain relevant to business include:
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