Let me clarify the response I sent on Monday to your Sunday piece. I took umbrage at your comment:

Australia will never be able to create companies
like Google, Sony, Nokia, Hilton, Unilever, Toyota, Shell or P&O as
long as the economy is dominated by gouging cartels supported by a
high-taxed limp-wristed government.

I happen to
believe that, some prominent examples to the contrary, Australian
companies in aggregate have nothing to be ashamed of. To hear a comment
like “Australia will never be able to …” just makes me mad. Hence my
quick response (it would have been quicker except I was travelling when
the Sunday edition appeared). As a result of a simple Google search I
pulled up a list of companies to see how many “large” companies are
“Australian”. The criterion of “large” was not really relevant to the
article on Woolworths but was relevant to the question of Australian
corporate presence on the world stage.

I am not defending those
13 companies on the Fortune list in any way; how can I when I include
in my course on Financial Risk Management many examples of financial
catastrophes perpetrated by them. And I agree with most of your
comments in reply and with Bill Éclair’s comments. There are a lot of
things wrong, and they need more adequate exposure (and it’s good to
see Stephen Mayne getting back more strongly into the corporate
governance debate), but there are plenty of companies able to make a go
of it and not fall back on to an excuse for failure of an economy
“dominated by gouging cartels supported by a high-taxing limp-wristed
government”.

In fact, you agree with my point – look at the
companies you both mention: Woodside, Westfield, Billabong, Macquarie
Bank, News Corp, CSR, Rinker, James Hardie, Resmed, Ready-Mix Concrete.

We can create the companies! So let’s lighten up on the word “never”.

On
another point in Bill Éclair’s letter, it’s unlikely Australia will get
back to 1% of world exports again, except maybe for a statistical blip.
As countries like China and India continue to open up we’ll see that
the total amount of overseas trade will expand faster than Australia –
and most other countries – will be able to expand their trade. That’s
nothing against Australia, it’s just a reflection of being a mature
economy. In much the same way, China will again be the world’s largest
economy soon, not because the US has gone backwards but simply because
China has four times as many people.

Crikey and the corporate cultural cringe:
http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/03/09-1312-4274.html

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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