Innovation: rediscovering a culture of enterprise

We Australians talk the talk about enterprise. We have a history of enterprise. But we do not consistently walk the talk of enterprise. What is needed is not just budgetary allocations and getting the tax settings right, not just the world-class institutions capable of discovering and of commercialising ideas, what we need is much more.

We need to discover and cultivate a culture of enterprise.

Back in the 19th century such enterprise was seen as resourcefulness. Clancy of the Overflow was a resourceful independent resilient bushman. Today it’s a different story; today there is an anti-business and an anti-entrepreneur sentiment.

The Americans admire entrepreneurial success. We Australians are deeply suspicious of entrepreneurial success. In order to truly leverage the skills, the energy and the resourcefulness of the Australian people, we certainly do need the right government support mechanisms in funding, education and tax concessions.

But we need more.

We need government, business, thought leaders and public commentary advocates to champion the idea of Australian entrepreneurship. We Australians have developed a culture of exporting ideas and of importing jobs – in, say, manufacturing. In the future, we Australians need to develop, and to develop damn quickly, the 21st Century skill of creating a business out of an idea.

We Australians need to see that skill as being every bit as valuable as the ability to bat and bowl. Once we have achieved that, there will be no stopping the entrepreneurship of the Australian people.

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