18/01/2005 - 21:00

EDITORIAL Mark Pownall

18/01/2005 - 21:00

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JUST as the Federal Labor party rues its attempt to innovate with its leadership during the past year, we mustn’t lose sight of the need to experiment from time to time. Innovation is the key to survival and there must always be room to try new ways of t

JUST as the Federal Labor party rues its attempt to innovate with its leadership during the past year, we mustn’t lose sight of the need to experiment from time to time.

Innovation is the key to survival and there must always be room to try new ways of thinking.

For the past two years we have focused on Western Australia’s innovation culture.

The first feature highlighted concerns about funding  so last year we invited a number of leaders from the field, including venture capitalists, to discuss the problems and provide solutions. One notable theme was that researchers had to become more commercial.

I am happy to see that is exactly what appears to be happening.

Within the university sector there has been a decision to beef up the commercialisation expertise, which will give more focus to the researchers and provide better opportunities for the institutions to maximise their potential.

There is, of course, nothing like a league table to spur us on.

The University of Queensland has been a market leader in Australia and  we have to learn from it.

But it is ironic that to make most of innovation we have to follow paths established by others.

A plan for the city

IT was refreshing to read Joe Poprzeczny’s piece on the City of Perth this week.

Joe and I discussed the concept of a City Charter, which was raised by Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass, among others, in a major feature WA Business News ran late last year about the lack of democratic representation on the Perth council.

Joe went out and asked one of Perth’s experts, Emeritus Professor of Geography, Martyn Webb, what he thought and the article outlines his views on how development should be managed through a special commission.

The City of Perth is something that I feel very strongly about.

I think metropolitan Perth is in pretty good shape but the CBD does lack something to make it a standout capital. In some ways it does its job too well, it is the perfect service centre for industry spread out over a vast geographic area.

Despite criticism of the railway expansion, and the Belltower preceding that, no-one could really accuse any level of government in WA of grandiose visions born of people living in ivory towers.

When the people from the bush come here, there’s not too much that would leave them shaking their heads in disbelief. They vote, so that is probably good, but even locals like a bit of wow factor every now and then.

I was in Chicago last year for the opening on its Millennium Park. Completed fours year late, it was a monumental project that really gives the heart of the city a unique buzz.

I’d challenge any politician to stick their neck out and come up with a unique vision that would turn some heads – you’ve got about a month to do it.

Labor’s larrikin loses the leadership

MARK Latham’s decision to quit the Federal Labor leadership ends a frenetic and turbulent period in Australia’s political history.

Mr Latham was to Federal politics what 20/20 day games are to cricket – fast, furious and unpredictable.

In some ways it is regrettable that such a colourful character has exited the scene, but Australians have shown what they need from a leader and were not prepared to risk putting their faith in someone lacking the track record required.

While illness may be the underlying reason, it is doubtful that even in good health Mr Latham would have lasted the distance to the next election.

He lacked the polish, even in command, and his larrikin past was simply too much larrikin and not past enough for most voters.

He had some ideas, particularly in economics, that might have found some congruity with business but we’ll never know if he would ever have implemented them.

As a policy maker he proved wayward and illogical.

Kim Beazley is, in many respects, the opposite of Mark Latham.

As John Howard continues to redefine modern Australian politics, Labor may be beginning to see the merits of the recycled leader showing his stamina. It will be fascinating to watch this forthcoming clash – albeit at the leisurely pace of a test cricket match played with as much tradition as possible within the context of the modern game.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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