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Ease techno change

Businesses need to ease the process driven by technological change says National Competition Council president Graeme Samuel.

He told an audience at a recent Chamber of Commerce and Industry lunch that what was needed was political and business leadership.

“Leadership is not merely echoing and advocating ill-informed fears of the implications of a changing society,” Mr Samuel said.

“Neither is leadership, at the other extreme, telling people who may have concerns about a changing society that their concerns have no validity.

“The main role of business is generating wealth in the community by adopting efficient approaches to meet the needs and wants of Australians, including increasing productivity with the adoption of new technologies,” he said.

“However, business should also understand the impact these new technologies have on society and consider the best ways to ensure new technologies win acceptance by society.

“This appears to be no more than sound business practice, but this approach has not always been adopted by business when changing the way that goods and services are provided.”

He said some people sought to preserve their interests by convincing others that governments should do all it could to stem the economic change – even if the changes promoted the interests of society as a whole.

“These opponents to economic change do an injustice to the whole community,” Mr Samuel said.

However, they also do an injustice to the people they purport to serve by suggesting that trying to meet the challenges of economic change is hopeless and by holding out the hope that living standards can remain the same or grow without change.”

Mr Samuel said Australia needed to ensure there was an equitable distribution of the benefits resulting from the economic paradigm shift.

He also said it was wrong to suggest that rural communities were missing out on the benefits of globalisation and deregulation.

While rural communities may not have benefited as much as metropolitan areas they still did benefit.

“Many people could be excused for thinking all rural Australia was declining in absolute terms but, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr Samuel said.

He said some rural communities were growing strongly where new industries such as wine had been developed or where traditional industries had been reinvigorated by more liberal trading arrangements.

Mr Samuel said Albany, Kalgoorlie, Broome and Margaret River had performed very strongly.

Claims of a rural population decline were also a myth, he said.

“The proportion of Australia’s population living in rural areas has been stable since the 1970s.”

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