Q. What's the outlook for the Australian economy?
A. Everything is relative...certainly Australia is looking good compared to many other economies. That said, our optimism, so important for all businesses, is starting to fray.
Q. Why is optimism fading?
- We've been living off the 'fat' of past reforms (from both sides of politics) and past successes which has now seemingly stalled
- The current political situation (a hung parliament) is unprecedented
- The state of the world economy and the feeling that the worse of the North Atlantic Financial Crisis (it wasn't a global financial crisis) may not be behind us. While Howard is optimistic we won't dip into a second crisis, that optimism is not shared by all.
Q. So should we be pessimistic?
Q. And on China?
- China will grow old before it grows rich. It is an ageing society and in the not too distant future the population will peak, then decline and age.
- And there will be a time as the Chinese people enjoy economic freedom, they will want similar political freedoms.
Q. Finally, this one from the floor: does the tea party make you look like a radical left winger?
And that's a wrap from the FSC conference. Now back to navigating the changes ahead.