John Legge has raised an issue close
to Henry’s heart with his piece on the notable absence of innovation from
Australia’s economic performance over
the past few years. Legge clearly has an axe to grind against the Coalition and
gives the ALP a few free kicks in his analysis of the whys and wherefores of
economic performance over the past 20 years. Statements such as “The big-ticket
items, maintaining support for the CSIRO and Australia’s universities and
continuing the 150 per cent research and development tax allowance would have
cost at most $5 billion a year, less than half the surplus” clearly lay the
blame squarely at the gummint’s feet – OK. Henry has been a strong advocate
of more innovation and technology commercialisation policies for some time
now.

Let’s not forget however, that the
performance has be delivered by someone, and it ain’t government. What Legge
has not acknowledged is that many of our trading partners have become very adept
at protecting their own industry sectors.

The world has changed significantly
since the ALP was in power, and we do ourselves no favours by drawing this
particular battle on political lines. There is encyclopaedic ignorance from
both the research institutions (including, and in fact especially CSIRO) and the
vast majority of the commercial sector on what each other does, and how each can
help the other, and here lies the real crux of the issue, in Henry’s humble
view.

Meanwhile, January’s record trade
deficit should be worrying the government, Treasury and the Reserve Bank – but
all the signs are that this indicator of an uncompetitive economy is being
treated by all these powers with lofty disdain.

Read on at Henry
Thornton

Peter Fray

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