Consideration needed

THE Bali bombings are a tragedy and I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy to the many Western Australians who have lost loved ones.

There is no doubt we are entering a new phase of globalisation, with the export of terror being just one of the many side effects.

This is a time for very careful consideration regarding how we should react.

The destruction in Bali has brought home just how close we are to a politically fragile part of the world.

Constant engagement, both sympathetic and tough, has failed to quell an issue long seen by defence experts as the real long-term issue for Australia – the stability of Indonesia, the nation with the fourth biggest population on the planet.

This issue will never fully recede while massive imbalance remains, the rich few so close to so many poor.

Do we want to live like the wealthy in modern South Africa, with security always at the front of our minds?

One way to redress this balance is through population.

The more people we have here the more we will be seen to use our resources adequately.

And the more people we have here the more we will be seen as a potential market for goods rather than an empty continent full of resources for the taking.

I believe we can do this in a sustainable and sensible manner and all get richer (both in monetary and lifestyle means) at the same time, and hopefully take our neighbours along with us for the ride.

Big population growth would make Australia the investment tiger of Asia and ensure the only thing that flows uncontrollably across our borders is capital.

Specialist field

THE Balinese drama also highlighted something else for me – the importance of having the ability to deal with burns.

With victims being airlifted to WA for treatment at Royal Perth Hospital, I was probably in a heightened state of awareness about this issue when I received notice about fund raising efforts of the Skin Culture Research Fund.

The SCRF is looking to raise money for burns research and fund specialist burns units.

It is also worth noting that WA has some leading research in skin technology, including Bentley-based Clinical Cell Culture.

C3, as it is known is, has developed a spray-on skin, which is reportedly being used at RPH this week on the victims of the Indonesian terror attack.

It is wonderful to see technological investment used for such humane purposes.

Now for a

word from our sponsor …

LAST week WA Business News played host to some of the leading lights of the advertising industry to discuss the issues for this troubled industry.

Few would disagree about the dreadful state of the local industry, which has suffered as the WA Government pared back its advertising spend and big accounts have drifted eastwards.

Many of these are consumer goods or services that are irreplaceable as far as the advertising industry goes.

For the agencies it appears there is not a lot of work out of the growth fields in WA, such as oil and gas.

The group discussed the disappearance of the ‘big idea’ as clients have demanded more accountability and the media has fragmented, making it tougher for big campaigns to succeed in delivering a mass message cost effectively.

Of course the big idea has not disappeared. Ownership has just changed.

These days Richard Branson works up the big idea in-house and gets it on the TV news. Instead of giant Coke balls on the beach, it’s the Virgin chief over the Atlantic in a hot air balloon.

It’s probably a lot cheaper, hence the rise of the public relations industry, partly at the expense of advertising.

At the same time as this change, the industry has been unable to shift its remuneration to a time-based equation to reflect the true cost of its work.

It’s so tough the traditional advertising long lunch is dead. At the WA Business News forum we couldn’t keep these executives past 2pm, even on a Friday.

So in hindsight, what can I offer? Probably very little. The room contained some of WA’s most creative people, who I am sure have applied more than a bit of lateral thinking to their dilemma.

Maybe, though, one solution is for ad agencies to take a more venture capital role with business. They could invest in people and concepts they believe have merit in the hope that that assistance and nurturing will create a giant client of the future.

Possibly that is something that should have happened when times were better and there was money to invest. But it’s a thought.

I also feel that the oil and gas industry should not be discounted. While we are a long way from the major consumer markets, we are increasingly seeing senior executives from that industry spending time in their careers in Perth.

One day some of these people will make decisions about global communications for their companies.

Where better place to do this work cost-effectively and in a global sense than WA?

These may be trivial offerings but one thing is for certain: I believe we need a healthy advertising industry here. It is a vital way to retain the creative people who colour our lives and help our products take on the rest of the world.

Spotlight on McGlue

FOR several years during the 1990s I worked for former finance editor John McGlue.

Mr McGlue was always a controversial figure, not afraid to put the spotlight on anyone he considered an underperformer.

There is no doubt, though, that he was a great journalist. The amazing expose of the Western Women scandal that resulted in the jailing of Robin Greenburg is a good example of his work.

When he left the media in a full-time capacity, many of his former colleagues – myself included – kept an interest in what he was up to.

I did not believe that anyone who had been so tough on the corporate world would be able to make it. Just as when he was an editor and journalist, he is still rubbing people up the wrong way. However, it is clear from what I have been hearing during the past 12 months that he has secured a significant amount of work – certainly enough to my mind to make him a player in corporate Perth worth examining.

Public relations has been a growth field for some time but this is a new development worth watching.

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