Archive for July, 2008

Hawkes Bay signature dish (BEST PRACTICE)

July 24, 2008

The Kiwis are inventive. Here is a great initiative that should be copied, plagiarised or duplicated!

The hunt is on to find Hawke’s Bay’s Signature Dish for 2008. Food Hawke’s Bay GM Jane Libby says the Signature Dish event, launched last year, is a regional bonanza showcasing the best local food and beverages. There is now a dedicated awards night at the Hawke’s Bay Opera House in October along with a special presentation at the Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Awards gala dinner in November.


“Interest among restaurants is mounting and we are expecting an even greater event this year because we have been able to take on people’s feedback and grow the competition,” Mrs. Libby said. The event creates fantastic exposure for participating restaurants and is a real draw card for food lovers.  During the six weeks that the competition ran last year over 45,000 diners ate out at the 17 participating restaurants.


Registrations close 11 August – phone 06- 974-8932 or email


Federal program updates – Australia

July 24, 2008


Things are quiet because many programs have temporarily disappeared. Numerous program reviews at present.


Cutler Review of Innovation Programs – they are currently mulling over hundreds of submissions. The  Green Paper is expected end July. Three issues that might get a run are 1. smarter use of government procurement; 2. another shake-up of the CRCs; and 3. clustering and milieu themes.


Green Review of TCF support – understood to be on-track. Cockatoo hopes that it will focus on 1. keeping the local industry tracking to higher value activities that complement the market position of low-cost competitors; 2. strengthening of global supply chains; 3. integration of design into quality apparel fashion goods; 4. increased local processing of natural fibres.


Creative Industries Innovation Centre ($16.2 million) – submissions have just closed. This Centre has the potential to trigger a lot of smart activity. Decision likely in August, although we hope it is not rushed.


Clean Energy Innovation Centre ($20 million) – submissions due 21 July. This centre could be very significant if it captures the latent opportunities. The industry is defined as solar; wind; geothermal; biofuels; fuel cells; hydro (latter is marginal). We believe it must focus on the links between research, SMEs and the big corporates.


Regional Development Australia – the RDA Committees (the old ACCs) are currently providing comments on new admin arrangements and local infrastructure requirements. This could be valuable if it can be somehow integrated with the big ticket agendas of Infrastructure Australia.


House of Reps Enquiry on a new regional infrastructure program – submissions close 14 July. Cockatoo is making a submission pleading for Ministers to keep out of the process, and for the feds to stop its piecemeal approach. Watch this space. 

Care needed with Garnaut report

July 24, 2008


The report by Professor Ross Garnaut on a response to global warming has led to a frenzied debate in Australia about how an Emissions Trading System should work.


Sanity has gone out the window as spruikers and activists of all persuasions push their points of view. Garnaut cautions about the risks if Australia’s market economy gets ahead of the pack. But in the next breath he talks about a 2010 start, and a ‘short and transitional’ adjustment period.


Whoa! How an ETS plays out on the international stage has certain parallels to the industry protection debate. There we had Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Nordics taking lead positions in winding back protection and restructuring their economies. The recent 10-12 years of economic sunshine helped cushion the falls in manufacturing job losses.


However those nations leading on greenhouse gas emissions will incur the wrath of a lot more people. Why? First, virtually all mum and dad investors via their superannuation funds (at least in Australia) have big exposure to energy-intensive industry. Secondly, Japan, France, Russia, China and USA will surely drag their heels on ETS arrangements (they have the track record).


The risk here is that the Australian Government’s policy response will be unconsciously shaped by the extreme elements within the environmental lobby. The result could be a huge political stoush in the lead-up to the next election, as the industry heavyweights side with the Opposition. The process has already started.


Biofuels – wake up world!

July 24, 2008

The CSIRO has grabbed the national headlines in Australia by claiming that petrol prices will hit $8 a litre within a decade.

This sits oddly with the forecast by Australia’s other major forecaster, ABARE, that world oil price would fall to $67/barrel by 2013. This means that ABARE is plumping for a bowser price of around $1/litre, against $8/litre from their mates across Lake Burley Griffin. Go figure! (Former head of ABARE, Dr Brian Fisher, famously said that, if prices are high enough, roosters will lay eggs. Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne, retorted that ABARE now has egg all over its face).

Cockatoo reckons NEITHER has a CLUE, and that the truth is in the middle. Both should exit the forecasting game, and just tell us who is forecasting what. Bureaucrats do not have any divine skills in this field. CSIRO at least flagged what is now self-evident – that the world must rely more on non-conventional fuels including ‘biofuels which do not reduce food production by requiring valuable arable land to produce.’

The hot goss is that there is a crop – brassica mustard – that is high-yielding and very suited to arid areas. It is crying out for R&D to fine-tune it to local conditions. Grain growers in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA are raring to go, but the public R&D agencies are unsure due to concerns that biofuels are pushing up food prices. But mustard is very suited to marginal rainfall areas, such as west of the Newell Hwy. Time for lobbying by certain Cockatoo members! (The other strong contender long-term must be solar energy)

Former Qantas chief = tourism excitement?

July 24, 2008

Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, has announced the Steering Committee to develop Tourism Strategy, to be chaired by ex-Qantas supremo, Margaret Jackson.

Cockatoo see this as a significant development. Ferguson stresses the need “to focus on supply-side issues such as investment, infrastructure, labour market and aviation…this Committee will channel ideas from industry and the work an inter-departmental committee to deliver some exciting options for governments into the future to explore and consider.” 

Ferguson is dead right re the supply side focus, and they’d better be exciting! We have been kidding ourselves about much of our tourism infrastructure – trains that embarrassingly bad, the ruinous Pacific Highway, second-rate accommodation outside the major cities, a sea of sub-standard tourism product surrounding some magnificent islands. The oil price hike is killing regional tourism dependent on discretionary car travel.

Committee members include Christopher Brown (long-time MD of Tourism & Transport Forum – a good operator), Kayleen Collins (Executive GM of Cairns International Airport), Saul Eslake (chief economist, ANZ Bank – never forgets his Tassie roots), Gregory Hywood (Tourism Victoria, and ex- journo?), Karen Jacobs (Kwillana Dreaming, indigenous cultural tour operator), Jeff Kennett (ex-Liberal Premier of Victoria, there for his ability to cut to the chase, and give a bipartisan flavour). Cockatoo looks forward to providing input.

‘Design’ now all-important

July 24, 2008

Dr John Howard (Canberra-based consultant/policy analyst) says design and creative practice are major components of industry and innovation policy. John has done excellent work in this field, and this month he launched Between a hard rock and a soft space: design, creative practice and innovation.” The international overview is worth sharing:

§          UK leads the world in its recognition of the creative industries. The Cox Review of Creativity in Business examined how to exploit creative skills more effectively (UK Treasury 2005). The Design Council is important – now runs a program ‘Designs of the Time’ (DOTT) and a new program, ‘Designing Demand’ helps SMEs become more competitive – offers flexible, structured processes, using expert Design Associates with business experience.

§ New Zealand has launched a design strategy and is looking to breed a cohort of design-led firms — brand builders based on ideas grown in New Zealand.

§ The German Design Council (Rat für Formgebung) is a world leader in competence centres for communication and know-how transfer in the design field. Runs competitions, exhibitions, conferences, consulting, research and publications.

§ The Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID) improves awareness of the importance of design as a competitive tool, and encourages the integration of design methodology.

§ The Indian Government released a national design policy in 2006. It includes a ‘Mark of Good Design’ – only well-designed products can carry the mark. The aim is to ensure that the words ‘Designed in India’ come to mean good value. India is seeking to become a global design hub. Currently a roll-out of design-led business and academic centres.

§ Taiwan has a robust design policy, supported by a growing number of design schools.

§ South Korean students outnumber all other nationalities in most graduate design programs in the United States, and Samsung is an upcoming innovator.

§ China is shifting its manufacturing base from OEM to original design manufacture and brand-manufacturing operations. In 20 years, China has opened 400 specialist design schools to train designers and build design capabilities.

§ Singapore is creating centres to bring business and design and creativity together.

Thanks to Hari Argiro (Adelaide CC) for pointing us to John Howard’s article.

Czechs and the rest

July 24, 2008

According to an Ernst & Young survey, the Czech Republic has held its position as one of the world’s 10 most attractive countries for foreign direct investment, this year taking the 9th spot. China has been ranked the most attractive destination for FDI – ahead of Eastern Europe and Western Europe.

§          Europe has lost its longstanding No. 1 “attractiveness” position. China accounts for 47% followed by India (30%) and Russia (21%). USA is next.

§           “How to” invest is more important than “how much”. Key issues are political and legal stability (54%), telecoms infrastructure (51%) and labor costs (47%).

§          When asked how to make Europe more attractive, respondents cited increased flexibility in labor markets (42%) and simplified regulations (39%).

§          “Investors are also calling for innovation in education and the supply chain. Alongside high technology clustering and R&D, respondents also seek innovation in high-performance communication channels (48%), creative education (34%) and supply chains (27%)”

Contributed by CzechInvest.

Picking winners in the creative arts (BEST PRACTICE)

July 24, 2008


CraftNet is an international network of community colleges that develops artisan-based strengths. Cluster guru Stu Rosenfeld facilitates the network, which has an excellent newsletter. Cockatoo fields lots of enquiries on their behalf. Go to One of their recent stories is illuminating!


In the 1980s, Paducah’s Lowertown district (Kentucky USA) was dominated by slumlords and drug dealers, a blight on the city. One local artist – Mark Barone, a painter who moved to Paducah in 1989 – learned about an earlier successful effort in Rising Sun, Indiana to attract artists with real estate incentives.


He convinced the mayor and city to package a set of real estate incentives for artists to recruit them to Paducah, including a $2,500 reimbursement for design or renovation costs, 100 percent financing of low-interest loans for existing structures, and a number of free lots for new construction.


After placing ads in art magazines, the city attracted dozens of artists. Since 2000, about 70 artists overall have participated in the program. The Lowertown neighborhood today has 22 art galleries and studios, has attracted attention from Governing Magazine, and, in May 2008, the New York Times featured Paducah in its Travel Section, describing “How Artists Came to the Rescue of an Ailing Kentucky Town” and drawing comparisons to New York’s Upper East Side.


The incentives are now open to chefs as well, in an attempt to expand the city’s culinary arts. Efforts also are underway to raise the capital needed to establish a Paducah School for the Arts.