Why Australia is a good place to do business according to Bernard Salt

In his presentation at the 2015 Indue Leadership Forum, KPMG partner, demographer and social commentator Bernard Salt made an encouraging statement that Australia is still a good place to do business.

As the third richest, eleventh fastest-rising and twelfth largest country by GDP, he said Australia is a valuable, but vulnerable economy.

His predictions bring good news for Australian business, and important insights into what might be the next game-changing industries. As the global population increases, he said, food production must expand, and areas where Australia has the potential to take advantage – food security, water, resources, space and energy – will also grow in demand. Our proximity to Asia puts us in a prime position to provide value in these industries to the fastest-rising economies, China, Korea, Indonesia and India, the third, sixth and seventh fastest-rising economies respectively.

On the domestic front, Bernard debunked common misconceptions about where potential population wealth will come from. Most growth, he said, will come from ‘middle suburbia’ – 5 to 25 kilometres from the centre of Australia’s major capital cities, rather than the CBDs or outer suburbs.

In terms of who will do the spending, the well-known ‘hipster’ and ‘baby-boomer’ subcultures are dwindling, and instead Bernard predicted primary and high school students, as well as families, will start to dominate spending trends. This in turn will fuel the growth of payment technologies such as online banking and ATMs for young adults, direct debits and credit cards for mature adults, and ‘active retirees’ (retired but probably working part-time) increasingly using gift cards for their grandchildren.

For those of us in the banking and retail sectors, these industries show no sign of losing their dominance, with all four major banks, plus Wesfarmers and Woolworths making the list of the top ten biggest companies in Australia. Bernard predicted there will be shift in the workforce from low-skilled work, which will increasingly be outsourced to emerging markets, toward knowledge workers, particularly in healthcare, social assistance, science and technology.

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