Ian Frazer AC

The argument is put that one day, when the bubble bursts, we’ll be hungry enough, but likely it will be too late.

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This book sets out to shock.  I read it in two hours, and  believe that those two hours would be well spent for any person, whether politician, board member, university vice-chancellor, trade union leader, employee or high school graduate, who aspires to shape the future of this country in the global village positively in the 21st century.  The reader may not agree completely with the underlying thesis that innovation alone drives real economic growth. However, they should at least be aware of the generally sobering facts about the current state of business innovation in Australia, and how we compare with successful countries globally, that support the author’s call for local action. The author’s description of Australia as a country shaped by dedication to leisure and lifestyle is backed by well-argued evidence. Reading it reminded me of the fate of ancient Rome, where the masses were kept happy with bread and circuses as the empire went into irreversible decline.  The Australian economy is depicted as a bubble within a global bubble. While acknowledging that we Australians are smart, the book points out that we as a nation are hung up on trivialities.  Unlike the fast growth economies in southeast Asia we are not hungry enough to be the risk-taking innovators. The argument is put that one day, when the bubble bursts, we’ll be hungry enough, but likely it will be too late.  Developing an innovation culture in education, industry, and government to drive economic growth takes time, money and motivation. The author argues compellingly that government and industry should not merely talk about game changing moon shots but should work in partnership to initiate and sponsor some.  They would also need to commit to research, and innovative development and translation of that research, to ensure moon-shot success, and drive real economic growth.  Read the book, and I expect you’ll agree!

Ian Frazer AC
Australian of the Year 2006

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