Australians don’t value entrepreneurship and it could leave us behind, says former Queensland Labor Premier and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation Chairman Peter Beattie.
Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Lighthouse Leadership series on April 21, Beattie drummed up the important role entrepreneurs play in Australia and criticised the nation’s aversion to them.
He said Australians were nervous about failure and suffered greatly from tall poppy syndrome.
“I think the biggest problem is we don’t value entrepreneurship in this country…we hate tall poppies,” he said.
“We’ve got to value entrepreneurs, we’ve got to value success and we’ve got to value people who actually deliver.
“Frankly, if we don’t change that culture we will be left behind.”
He said Australia should be championing entrepreneurs because they were the ones who took the risks to deliver and create jobs and growth.
“You can dislike these people or like them, but they actually had the guts to do something, to take it on their own and we can applaud them for it,” he said.
“We don’t have to agree with everything they do, but I’d rather we had Twiggy Forrest running around being a success than a whole load of overseas people who come here, gouge and leave.”
Engage, engage, engage
Beattie also had some advice for anyone in dealing with the new State Government and it wasn’t to go to them with hands outstretched or avoid them altogether, rather they should engage to help them get the policy levers right for the benefit of everyone.
“Too often I find scientists, researchers and often business people don’t want to engage because they’re sick of politics, they see it on TV and hate it,” he said.
“The reality is, they make decisions. You’ve got to continue to be involved because if you don’t the sectional interests in each one of the political parties, and it doesn’t matter which one, they’ll dominate.
“The only way you can stop that happening is to actually engage on a direct level.
“Be positive… democracy is only as good as the participants in it.”
Beattie, Queensland’s former trade commissioner to North and South America from 2008 to 2010, also detailed the importance of event and cultural tourism.
He said just having a nice beach wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
“The tourism product is getting a lot more competitive, it’s no longer good enough to have a beach, it’s no longer good enough just to have a casino or theme park,” he said.
“You’ve actually got to do more than that and that’s why cultural tourism is really important.
“That’s why partnerships with Indigenous Australians is more important than any time previously, Europeans want to experience a different culture.
“They can get their beaches from Egypt, or Greece.”
He said event tourism was important because of its lasting impacts and urged WA to bid for a Commonwealth Games or other major international sporting competitions to be hosted at the new Perth stadium.
“It’s not just the driver of the sporting event itself, it’s the spinoff that sends a positive message around the world,” Beattie said.
“Perth stadium, all I can say is wow, what a fantastic stadium you’ve got and whoever got that location got it absolutely right, the vista is fantastic. But there’s no point in having a wonderful stadium like that if you just think about local sport.
“That stadium needs to look at things like the Asian soccer cup, get Asian teams to come here and I also hope WA will bid for a future Commonwealth Games.”
Games has led to economic boom in QLD
With less than one year to go until the 2018 Commonwealth Games, games Chairman Peter Beattie says it has created plenty of public private partnership opportunities for QLD. He says preparing for the Commonwealth Games has been a driver for the economy on the Gold Coast.
“There’s no doubt that the widening of the roads, the extension of light rail and the construction activity that’s associated with the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast has really led to an economic boom,” he says.
“That’s one of the reasons why you’ll see so much economic activity on the south east corner of Queensland, which is driving the Queensland economy and outside of that it’s flat.”
The former Queensland Premier from 1998–2007, Beattie says the games is more than just a sporting event with numerous opportunities for businesses to be involved.
“The way we’re looking at it is it’s not just a sporting event, the athletes’ village and the precinct around it will be a health and knowledge precinct and it will be linked in with Griffith University to do a whole lot of research,” he says.
“Another one of the projects was built in partnership with Village Roadshow. The sound stage will be used for a number of sporting events and then will be used to make movies.”
Beattie’s foray into public life began when he joined the Australian Labor Party in 1974, entered parliament in QLD in 1989 and became minister for health in 1995, just before the Goss government lost office.
Wayne Goss’ decision to step down as party leader opened the door for Beattie to become Opposition leader. He subsequently became premier in 1998.
Beattie has also been QLD’s trade commissioner to North and South America, an adviser and guest lecturer at Clemson University in South Carolina.