Domestically in Australia, I feel we have managed to achieve over the last decade what most countries have aspired to – consistent, solid economic growth with excellent fundamentals of relatively low interest rates, lower unemployment rates, tax reform, low inflation, higher productivity and a competitive currency. Australia has managed to steer a steady course over that period, without participating in the heady highs and at the same time, avoiding the deep low periods as corrections are inevitably experienced. This consistency of performance at times may have appeared to some to be somewhat unexciting, but over the longer term it has provided an environment of solid growth with resulting economic progress and benefits.
For the year ahead, how we manage the deflation of a protracted property boom – principally driven by residential property over the last 4-5 years will be important. This factor of recent years has been a major influence in economic activity and how we transition to more normal conditions in this sector will be vital over the coming year.
The Asian Region continues to hold out major growth prospects, so essential for Australian exporters and for their own continued economic development and prosperity. In particular, China’s recent and ongoing extraordinary economic performance represents significant excitement for Australian resource companies to build upon the growth in trade between the two countries. Australia has already embraced this trading partner and will be a major beneficiary for years to come.
In the world of telecommunications, where I spend a significant part of my own time, I see the continuation of aggressive competition in all markets and the associated challenge of introducing new technologies, with particular emphasis on wireless and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) opportunities. In essence, an exciting period for consumers with new technologies and products, accompanied by continuing downward pressure on pricing.
To grasp the challenges ahead we need to manage the guaranteed reality of change in a more flexible and dynamic manner such that the ever changing needs of our staff and customers are continually met more urgently. If that is achieved, ongoing success will be guaranteed in my view, irrespective of the industry involved.