Technology and Australia’s competitive future: bright or bleak


The Economist Intelligence Unit, the research arm of The Economist newspaper, has put together a speaker line-up which includes three Australian Government ministers and 19 chief executives known for their involvement disruptive competition for this year’s “Australia’s Asian Future” summit in Sydney on September 1.

The one-day event was launched last year with the aim to examine Australia’s changing role in the region – the opportunities and threats from the growing importance of countries such as China and India on the world map.

Josh Frydenberg, then minister for energy, resources and northern Australia (now environment and energy), was the only politician last year. This year there is Julie Bishop, minister for foreign affairs, Matthias Cormann, minister for finance, and Kelly O’Dwyer, assistant treasurer and minister for financial services.

Bishop will take part in the keynote interview with Charles Goddard, the Asia Pacific editorial director for The Economist Intelligence Unit: “Australian Innovation in a Drawbridge-Up World”. She will be followed, straightaway, by Larry Marshall, the chief executive of the CSIRO, who will also be interviewed by Goddard.

Given the controversies surrounding funding cuts to the CSIRO over the past two years and forced or voluntary defections by scientists from the organisation, Marshall’s session – “Australia’s Asian Future: Bright or Bleak?” – could be very interesting.

In its background note, the event organisers say: “Australia is one of the world’s most open economies, and has long been an advocate of free trade. But a resurgence in populist nationalism has put globalisation on the back foot and could threaten Australia’s prospects for growth. Both trade and technology can put people out of jobs.

“In the past, many have been willing to accept the upheaval if it has meant benefiting from new efficiencies. But the global order has changed; if they are no longer confident of finding new roles, will the next generation of displaced workers be so accepting? And to what extent will “technonationalism” affect Australia’s international position in exporting innovation?”

Mathias Cormann will be interviewed by The Economist columnist Dominic Ziegler on “The Development of Australia’s Future Industries”. O’Dwyer will join a panel discussion on “Australia v Asia: Finance Disrupted”.

Other speakers throughout the day include:

  • Peter Coleman, managing director and chief executive of Woodside Energy
  • Mark Palmquist, chief executive at GrainCorp
  • Ruslan Kogan, founder and chief executive officer at
  • Don Meij, chief executive and managing director at Domino’s Pizza Enterprise Ltd, and
  • Flavia Tata Nardini, the chief executive of Fleet Space Technologies.

Nardini said: “To keep Australia at the forefront of technology and innovation, we must place greater emphasis on R&D support for our start-ups, disrupters and innovative companies that need help today.”

For the full agenda, registration and other details: