KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM ANDREW WEAR’S ENGAGING AND ENLIGHTENING SESSION
What is Australia good at:
- Immigration: resulting in one of the biggest world economies
- Inequality in carbon emissions and renewables
What are the Nordics good at and what Australia can learn from Norway and its’ neighbours:
- Low social economic inequality and greater income. High income = low inequality
- Above average in equality and incomes
- Norway has a strong democracy and is one of the happiest countries in the world
- Norway has high economic participation and social inclusion
- Norwegians work 6.5 weeks less that Australians + have one of the lowest working hours in the world, resulting in greater labour productivity since Norwegians/Nordics work less and are well rested compared to Australia and the rest of the world
- Denmark’s Samu Island has a farming community of 4,000 and is Denmark’s renewable energy island, providing a good example of how a farming community revitalised itself by investing in and owning the wind turbines. Their ownership of the turbines resulted in minimised opposition. Even as a nation producer of pig manure, Denmark as a whole halved its per capita carbon emissions compared with Australia who had increased theirs.
- Their economies have increased and grown as carbon emissions declined
- Gender equality in Iceland is one of the highest globally with Norway placed in the Top 3:
- 1st Iceland
- 2nd Norway
- 3rd Finland + Sweden
- Nordics countries are also very good at female workforce participation, with Iceland leading the way with no gender pay gap
- Germany’s success has been driven and achieved by medium sized businesses supporting innovation + unique areas of production and ‘narrow niches’ such as in manufacturing and how to build innovative ecosystems in their cities
- Unique historical and political environments leading to quotas on Boards of Listed Companies to include women which is not the case in Australia. Could this be due to the fact that this too culturally embedded and is not transferable to Australia? Plus, the Nordic’s 50% representation of women on public Board of companies leads us to reflect that this may not be possible in Australia due to these cultural manifestations.
- Australia is stuck and can’t see its way out when it comes to Energy and Climate and will need a to use a ‘circuit breaker’ to help see our way out.
Andrew Also Raised our Awareness To Consider:
- No country is perfect and even Norway has issues grappling with oil and gas and how our reliance on this energy source can be reduced.
- All countries are in a conundrum but they need to have an open mind and how they can innovate. Singapore provides inspiration in another key element: Education. 10 years ago Finland was leading the world in this domain. Today it is Singapore; a reminder that we also need to keep any eye on who is achieving which comes with a different mindset and how to allocate privilege.
Key Questions Raised:
- How can we apply these lessons raised by Andrew in ‘Solved! How other countries have cracked the world’s biggest problems and we can too!’?
- Andrew’s observation is that the current recession resulting from Covid-19 will be with us for a long time and that the Australian Government will play a role for considerable period ahead as the economy will need physical stimulus. At the same time, the government can reconfigure and learn. While the debates are around infrastructure delivery they actually should be on service sectors, such as hospitality, with lots of conversations for reshaping companies and not ‘business as usual’ as Andrew sees that this is a great opportunity for businesses to make change.
- Renewables, according to Andrew, will be a way to stimulate economies and this is where Australia can learn from the Denmark and the Nordics in this recovery period.
- Studies and research were also cited as one domino that can provide inspiration to do and get the ball rolling.
- Inequality: cited as critical and very bad for economic growth and that labour participation is vital. It can be addressed through more equity in education and the labour market which would put Australia in good stead if it can overcome gender and labour inequality.
- Andrew emphasised that how we address inequality during this period is key as well as learning from Norway and its Nordic neighbours.
- According to the IMF, tax cuts in Australia will not and cannot provide growth but Andrew remains confident that we ‘tick all the boxes’ and like the Nordics we have good robust economics and the institutional architecture to move through weighty problems. And that solutions do exist!
- What can Nordic/Northern European countries work on: according to Andrew there are a couple of areas, with carbon emissions reductions being one and innovation being the other. According to Andrew, on a competitive scale, Nordic countries are not quite as innovative as Australia. Which poses the question, where would Norway be without oil? Denmark not too far behind in those metrics although it doesn’t have oil. But all are in the same realm of statistics so can no longer put success down to oil
And as a final takeaway, the upside of both Nordic countries and Australia: crime rates are low compared to other European countries such as Germany and the UK. And their smaller populations encourage and enable change and for decisions to be made faster and more easily. And this where both Norway and Australia can make headway in these months and years ahead.