Australia’s got talent

It’s not just the egg-laying mammals, laidback approach to life and larrikin sense of humour that make Australia unique. As Jeni Bone discovers, ingenuity, innovation, technical expertise and ethics are just some of the characteristics the world associates with the products and services from the Great Southern Land.

“For the global community, being Australian still retains a curiosity factor,” explains Bernard Salt, author, demographer and analyst at KPMG. “We are seen as niche manufacturers, rather than mass, and quirky to some extent, as a reflection of our culture.”

As Australians, we are seen as healthy, happy and bright, with all the sunshine, space, freedom and prosperity to be creative. “We don’t follow the rules, we aren’t bound by tradition or customs,” says Salt. “That in itself allows us to be inventive.”

Our historic isolation created a culture of invention and independence, perhaps tinged with a cultural chip on the shoulder that always made Australians strive to compete with our American and European counterparts. “That isolation is not so relevant now,” says Salt. “The market truly is global, with travel and the internet. But it’s our way of doing things – to innovate and invent rather than stick with the status quo.”

This quirkiness and perception of being niche manufacturers equates to a premium product. “People are willing to pay for that innovation and tap into a character they see as not prescribed by cultural conventions.”

Ian Harrison, chief executive at Australian Made Campaign, is a staunch advocate for making the most of a brand or product’s Aussie credentials.

“Our research says that being seen as Australian is very important in the domestic market and Australia has a very strong nation brand internationally. This can generate a much-needed premium for Australia’s exporters.”

Proclaiming your Australian-made identity is particularly important in a global market where margins are generally thin and there are often hundreds of products to choose from.

“In an environment where increased costs and a high Australian dollar have seriously undermined the competitiveness of many Australian products, country of origin is an asset we should be driving much, much harder,” he advises.

The alternative, not leveraging Australian identity, would most certainly mean the loss of more processing and manufacturing capacity.

On a domestic front, buying Aussie products puts dollars back into the local economy through jobs, career opportunities and keeping innovation at home.

MaryAnne Edwards, chief executive at AIMEX-Superyacht Australia, is an active supporter of Australian exporters and manufacturers.

Responding to the recent announcement of the establishment of Echo Yachts at Henderson in Western Australia, with its first project the construction of an 84-metre superyacht, Edwards says it comes at a time when Australia is making an impact on the global superyacht stage.

“Projects such as the new build by Echo ensure Australian skills and expertise continue to develop in this sector. Australia is a maritime nation and as such has always had a reputation for quality, innovation, skills, expertise and most of all a ‘can do’ attitude.”

Edwards says promoting a company’s Australian credentials is vital for connecting with customers who are looking for Australian attributes of “high standards, innovation and quality”.

“Australian pavilions at international boat shows are important in that they present a professional and united front to the world. Our key focus is on promoting Australian manufacturers and service providers to the world, as well as showcasing Australia’s attractiveness and capability as a cruising destination for the global superyacht fleet.

-Jeni Bone