20/12/2005 - 21:00

Convergence of events may make 2005 a year to remember

20/12/2005 - 21:00


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WILL 2005 be forever etched in our memories?

Convergence of events may make 2005 a year to remember

WILL 2005 be forever etched in our memories?

Surely it will be a long time before the convergence of events we’ve seen this year occurs again.

Maybe we’ll remember 2005 as the year we realised that isolation allows us to get on with making the most of things – just in case they change.

The last time we had a year like this was 1987, so let’s hope history is not repeating itself.

The parallels are, thankfully, hard to find.

Too many people in 1987 – as the America’s Cup was lost off our shores – were thinking that money was easy. After a wave of deregulation, there were schools of sharks capitalising on the naivety of the market, taking advantage of people’s ignorance.

It is far from the same story today.

Western Australia is much more focused on its strengths, recognising that there are limits to the fields in which a small population like ours can achieve, and learning to excel at what we really can do best.

Increasingly, we are a resources capital, and the wider population is becoming more aware of that.

Whether the average person in Perth recognises that 2005 was the year iron ore took off and started acting like gold is not guaranteed, but there is no doubt people are realising that minerals and energy drive our employment and maintain our living standards.

Naturally, iron ore is only half the story, though it’s a good one as Andrew Forrest, Gina Rinehart, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and glad bag of new hopefuls go about their business.

Uranium is another commodity worth noting.

In 2005, people started talking about uranium mining and nuclear power as if it was inevitable – perhaps coinciding with the impression that reality has set in with regard to global warming.

Of course another year that comes to mind is 2000, when the hype of the Internet ran headlong into the solid structure of reality.

I would not want to directly compare 2000 with 2005, because not everything aligned like it has this year.

Real estate was reasonable but mining remained in the doldrums. For Perth, with the entrepreneurs of West Perth, we saw the real highs and lows of the dot.com boom before the bust took place.

While many of our savviest corporate types made the most of people’s hopes (there’s that naivety again) many didn’t … and suffered for it.

This year has not been like that. Equity markets have been strong all round; even biotech and other general technology stocks have done quite well as mining, energy and property sectors have boomed beyond belief.

Of course, 2005’s success is synonymous with China, and relies heavily on the success of that vast country. Therefore how 2005 is remembered will largely be due to China.

If China can carry on without a bust, dragging the rest of the world along with it, then we will recall 2005 as the year when the foundation was laid, when this mighty nation threw off the shackles and became a world-class player.

However, if there’s the bust that many predict, it will not be 2005 that is written in the history books, it will be 2006 or 2007.

Historians are like journalists, unfortunately, the negative gets noted more readily than the positive.

But of course it’s not all about our state.

Federally, 2005 has been a massive year, as Prime Minister John Howard has made the most of his senate majority.

Whether or not you think that is a good thing, Mr Howard is certainly making hay when the sun shines – the most notable example being the industrial relations laws. Telstra is another example, though it will be remembered for the year it was privatised, not the year that privatisation became possible.

It’s hard to know if that will make 2005 remembered as, I am sure, Mr Howard would want it to be.

In my view the new IR environment will not be something that stays in the forefront of people’s minds; I doubt even its staunchest critics will be able to land a solid blow in 12 month’s time.

On the sporting front, 2005 may well be remembered for the loss of the Ashes. There are an awful lot of people who connected with that sports series.

As tragic as that loss might be, the irony is that 2005 may mark the year when cricket got competitive again – which is a great thing – but not the sort of memory that will resonate for long.

The Socceroos’ victory over Uruguay is another memorable moment. I am not sure it is that much of a key point, yet and I think it would take a World Cup semi-final next year for any of us to remember it was the 2005 win that got us there. Otherwise, no matter how much the soccer statisticians try to remind us, I don’t think we’ll care.

Finally, 2005 may be remembered for its cultural wars. Four years after September 11, terrorism has pervaded our everyday lives and challenged our beliefs in the way the way the world works.

Riots in Paris and, most recently, Sydney, have simply underscored the fact that globalisation does have its downsides – and we’d better get used to them.

Maybe we’ll remember 2005 as the year we realised that isolation allows us to get on with making the most of things, just in case they change.

See you in 2006

FINALLY, just a quick thank you to all our readers and contributors for your continuing involvement in the growing success of WA Business News.

On behalf of the editorial team I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to a bigger, brighter 2006.


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