CPA Australia president John Cahill FCPA and chief executive Alex Malley FCPA launched the book Australia's Competitiveness: From Lucky Country to Competitive Country at the prestigious National Press Club of Australia in Canberra on Wednesday 1 May at 12.30 pm AEST. The launch was broadcast live on ABC 1 in Australia.
The book is co-authored by Professor Michael Enright and Professor Richard Petty FCPA. Enright is a leading global authority in competitiveness and regional economic development and a founder of The Competitiveness Institute, and director of Asia-Pacific Competitiveness Programs at the Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy. Petty is a former chairman of CPA Australia, is chairman of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong & Macau and has published and worked extensively on governance and competitiveness issues and in the field of economic development.
Copies of the book are being provided to every Australian politician, state and federal, and to policymakers, opinion and business leaders around the country and internationally.
"CPA Australia would like everyone in Australia who has an interest in our future prosperity to better understand Australia's competitive position," Cahill says.
"Australia is at a tipping point. If we are to take full advantage of all the economic and cultural opportunities offered by the rise of China, India, Indonesia and the other powerhouse economies of Asia, our political and business leaders must understand how we compare with the region across a range of dimensions. Without this information we risk flying blind into the Asia Century, and beyond."
Malley believes that both major political parties need to commit to taking urgent action to ensure that Australia improves its competitive position.
"There is no guarantee that the conditions that underpinned Australia’s strong economic performance over the past decade – including historically high resource prices – will be sustained indefinitely as major customers seek other sources of supply, the resource intensity of Asia’s development diminishes and China moves from an export-orientated economy to one with a greater emphasis on domestic consumption and services," Malley says.
"With the world rapidly changing around us, Australia simply can't afford to be complacent and rely on our 'lucky country' mentality to get us through.
"Until now there hasn’t been enough research and industry-by-industry data to back up policies that are focused on transforming Australia into a knowledge-based economy through productivity growth and increasing Australia's international competitiveness, but the release of Australia's Competitiveness: From Lucky Country to Competitive Country changes all that – no more excuses."
While there are other reports on Australia's competitiveness, none is as extensive as the study for CPA Australia. Survey responses from 6000 business leaders from Australia and overseas reveal a level of complacency in which Australian companies rank their own performance highly and expect competitiveness reforms to be driven by government rather than industry or corporations.
Malley says everyone has a role to play in improving competitiveness. "Competitiveness is everyone's business. Governments are critical – they should establish long-term policy frameworks that provide a stable, clear, consistent vision and the right incentive structures," he says. "At the same time, Australian business can do much to improve its position relative to our neighbours by investing in developing staff and management skills, and enhancing their productivity and ability to compete in domestic and global markets."
Malley says he hopes the book will contribute to a deeper understanding and appreciation of competitiveness issues and kickstart a new debate about what Australia should be doing to become the competitive nation it needs to be to embrace the opportunities of the Asian Century.