24/07/2007 - 22:00

Another growth opportunity for WA

24/07/2007 - 22:00


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We've covered Western Australia’s venture capital scene several times over the years, often featuring the argument that there is so little of it here that it makes it difficult for those seeking capital.

We've covered Western Australia’s venture capital scene several times over the years, often featuring the argument that there is so little of it here that it makes it difficult for those seeking capital.

The same could be said for many parts of the financial spectrum.

In cases where this is a lack of local money or, at the very least, local management, those seeking funds find it hard to convince the powers that be to look west.

The tyranny of distance, it seems, has issues, from banking to funds management.

So it has been interesting to see real growth in the latter sector locally, as the state matures enough to support the money and those looking after it.

In looking at this sector in detail for this week’s special report we found plenty of new players, some of them new names to us.

I think it’s heartening to see such growth in this sector. While the sums may be small compared with the major national fund managers, these are the equivalent of boutique houses that can take stakes in companies that would not be efficient for the big players.

This is good news for those seeking equity.

But they not only offer a source of equity for private and public players, they also offer jobs for those qualified to this. They are yet another way we may be able to retain or attract new talent to the state.

Hopefully this growth is creating a sustainable presence for the sector in the local market, and not something that has grown swiftly due to the unprecedented amount of cash flowing around WA.

If sustainable the benefits will be large, especially if the these boutique funds can find niche expertise - like in minerals - that can be used to further enhance the reputation of the state.

Making sure we don't waste the boom

The more I think about our place in the world, the more concerned I get that we are missing out on what this boom could offer us.

Partly, the boom is straining resources, which means government hasn’t got time to think or plan properly. In other cases, the revenue generated is being squandered.

At a federal level, I don’t believe enough is being done to allow immigrants to easily come to Western Australia to fill skilled vacancies.

While processes have improved, Perth doesn’t have regional status, which would make it easier for migrants to select WA. Adelaide has this advantage, why not Perth?

More importantly, I get the impression the boom’s revenue is helping cover for poor performance.

Health and education are two areas where we increasingly hear stories that should not emanate from a first-world nation, let alone a rich centre like WA.

It’s time the boom’s cash was used to help pay for some fundamental restructuring in these areas, rather than just patching over the problems.

True believers bring their faith to bear

I had the pleasure of watching the West Coast Eagles beat the Sydney Swans the other evening.

What really interested me was the return of Ben Cousins and the rousing reception he received from the crowd.

It’s very difficult to absolutely understand what the cheers mean.

Was it genuine adulation of the star, welcomed back with open arms?

Was it admiration for someone who’d triumphed over adversity?

Was it just support from those who’ve forgiven, or was it relief that a star player had returned in time to bolster the team’s chances in the run to the finals?

Of course, it was probably a mixture of these but I couldn’t help thinking that I was hearing the voices of the true believers – those for whom winning outweighs any other consideration.

Naturally, the true believer recalls the superb athlete who is equal to any other in the competition. But there seemed to be little in the memory banks of what it means to lose your star player from the line-up before the season has started.

Personally, I’m all for forgiveness: after all, none of us is perfect. I also understand the need to provide support for those who’ve fallen.

But those who are adored often are deaf to voices of reason.

I hope the club can manage this new level of hype, and suspect the real journey has only just begun.



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