IT has been fascinating to read some of the reports on Perth as a place to live and work in recent times.
The Australian newspaper created something of a furore with its recent magazine piece, which gave the impression Perth was insular, uncultured and racist – all tags that, in my experience, are frequently attributed to Australians in general, rather than Western Australians.
That story coincided quite nicely with the special report we had planned for a while on former WA people returning to resume business in the State, which we published last week.
Then, at the weekend, I was surprised to see the front page of Singapore’s The Sunday Times devoting space to WA.
The cover featured several Singaporeans, including academic Steven Choo, who was pictured with his wife, former Channel Nine newscaster Tina Altieri, under the headline “Singaperth”.
The article shows Perth was the chosen destination for Singaporeans, attracting a third of the 33,590 who have successfully applied for permanent residency in Australia.
That number is much higher because it didn’t count students or those who chose not to seek residency and simply commute back and forth on other visas.
Many, it seems, are attracted to Perth for its lifestyle and friendly people – particularly the way things are less stratified here than in Singapore, where almost every aspect of life carries symbols of status.
This quote, for instance, from a Sinagporean resident about a couple of his oddly dressed countrymen wandering through Northbridge was instructive:
“No-one cares. People here don’t care what car you drive or what job you do. No-one looks down on you, even if you’re a road sweeper,” the interviewee said.
There were also business opportunities in WA that were simply not available to people in Singapore, such as property development, which is the preserve of the mega-rich in the island nation.
I await with bated breath next week’s promised follow-up “The downside of moving to Perth”.
Olive export push starts
A FEW challenges lie ahead for WA’s olive industry.
Started virtually from scratch by a few enterprising groups and fuelled by tax-effective investment, the growers are soon going to need to be able to shift their produce.
This will require processing capacity as well as distribution and marketing capabilities to ensure that what is grown as a premium crop makes its way to the top of the olive food chain.
On paper this always looks easier than it is in reality.
At the moment we are seeing the tremendous fallout from rapid growth in the Australian wine industry.
While wine has a longer and more sophisticated history in Australia than olives, many of the lessons being learned there at the moment are directly applicable to olives.
Still, geography alone must give the olive industry a chance at becoming quite an international force.
Australian farmers have done well in a variety of areas where their pioneering skill was in adapting crops and livestock to the land.
There is no reason why olives shouldn’t be the same.
Arts on show
Launching into this editorial, I have just completed judging for the 10th Anniversary Business & Arts Awards.
With the WA awards gaining recognition in Australia for the number and sophistication of the entries, it is perhaps unsurprising to find another record year with around 200 nominations across 10 categories.
This rising level of interest makes the judging process fascinating and there were some terrific projects to choose from.
The next stage is the awards night, which will be dramatically different from last year, using all the skills of the arts community to create a format that presents the best WA has to offer in a way that suits the business community it is targeting for corporate sponsorship.
Keynote speaker, Marcus Graham – an accomplished WA actor – will also bring some real star appeal to the stage of His Majesty’s theatre on November 12, though likely clad in more than the last time he appeared there with Sigrid Thornton in The Blue Room.
It should be a top night, especially when several of those nominated are already clutching a haul of national awards where WA again dominated proceedings. Who says we don’t have culture over here?
Speaking of events, local IT hero and 40under40 winner Nathan Buzza takes the podium on October 22 to talk about his rise from a teenage hospital bed to becoming a leading technology player in the medical communications game.
And for those interested in their own export ideas – or just the global village we live in – Jeff Scougall and Ian Wilcock, Australia’s high commissioners to South Africa and Mauritius respectively, are the next speakers in our Meet The Ambassadors program. They will be at a breakfast on October 15.
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