New Horizons Program - The Good Oil by Rod Brown

The Cockatoo Network has recently created an alliance of businesses to create new horizons of business - by bringing together previously unconnected investors in various regions around the world.

Starting next month, we will be developing a suite of ‘Regional Business Opportunities’ (RBOs) for introduction to prospective Indian, Chinese, Russian and European investors, including business migrants.

Foreign investors looking for sites will also be accommodated.

The initial sector focus is dairy goods, horticulture, wine and fruit liqueurs, processed meats, abattoirs, feedlots, high value seafood, wool and basic woollen products, farming land to support the above, minerals exploration, extraction, processing, building materials, machine tools, biofertilisers, environmental products, scientific and medical equipment and services, quality tourism resorts and golf courses, large-scale residential developments, education precincts, charter fishing, private hospitals and aged care, large hotels/motels and island resorts.

We are currently undertaking site selection work on behalf of a foreign biofertiliser/pesticide company.

The plan in this case is for product trials in four regions - one in each of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia - plus a production facility in stage two.

If your Council is interested in attracting investment into productive sectors rather than feeding the housing bubble, please contact us.

Sydney’s new Creative Hub
Last month’s Focus highlighted Sydney City Council’s new $25 million Creative Hub – sounds great!

Did some checking and the Hub won’t open until late 2017 – because the 67–storey building has to be built!

And we are advised that Greenland Australia is funding 100 percent of it, and open to opportunities in other cities in Australia and overseas.

Productivity Commission calls for end to auto parts assistance
The Productivity Commission recently released its final report on the car industry, and called for an end to assistance to the auto parts sector within three years.

The logic was basically that without a car industry, why entertain the notion of a parts industry!

However the PC and indeed Industry Minister Macfarlane must understand that the car parts manufacture is one of the last vestiges of an entire industry, and the local parts manufacturers can operate in the global industry.

Councils in the industrial belts of Adelaide and Melbourne are urged to approach federal and state industry ministers (and their local members) to:

  • embrace a global value chain approach for auto manufacture
  • assess incentives to build such chains with local companies within them including design, product testing, high precision parts manufacture, advertising and marketing.

Anti-corruption drive to go national?
As the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption continues to nail victims, there are now calls for an equivalent inquiry at the federal level.

The Abbott Government’s line is that the Australian Crime Commission has the power to begin investigations into such matters at any time.

But a trigger might materialise.

The Guardian reports that donations banned in NSW have been filtered through the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation.

Secondly, there is mounting disquiet about the disclosure limits which allow someone dishing out $10,000 for a political dinner or similar to
remain incognito.

Wouldn’t you expect a quid pro quo?

Thirdly, the serious wealth accumulation by former PMs, Premiers, Ministers, spouses etc. is feeding concerns that people in high office can’t help but act on privileged information.

Former federal mandarin John Menadue summed it up a decade ago: “Corporate donations are a major threat to our political and democratic system.”

Canada last year passed a law that limits corporate and union donations to political parties to a maximum of $C1000 ($A986). Watch this space.

Research grant realignment?
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has suggested that the funding of research grants to universities should be decided on the basis of the number of patents generated rather than the number of academicpapers published.

He says this was something other countries were already doing, and he’s more interested in producing jobs than producing papers.

His comments were quickly condemned by many within the university sector i.e. tying research funding to the production of patents would harm fundamental and theoretical research.

This is an age-old debate, but the universities have themselves to blame by their weak involvement in the commercialisation process. An interesting dialogue coming up.

National Broadband Network
The cost-benefit study of the NBN released last month by Minister Turnbull estimates the Coalition’s multi-technology model will deliver $16 billion more than Labor’s model in net economic and social benefits.

Opposition spokesman Jason Clare said Turnbull had broken a promise to have Infrastructure Australia to do the cost benefit analysis, and instead he had “hand-picked former staff and some of the most vociferous critics of the NBN”.

Two comments:
Infrastructure Australia never had the expertise to handle the study, and rightly ducked it.

And while some on the study team had an axe to grind, Tony Shaw (ex-head of the Telecommunications Authority) is an absolute straight-shooter and a document with his name on it has real worth.

So let’s get on with it.