Archive for November, 2012

Live beef and sheep exports – enough is enough

November 27, 2012

Let’s face it, shipping live animals in cramped pens for long distances across tropical seas is inherently cruel. And a good number of these beasts then face further suffering on arrival.

Around 50% of Australia’s sheep and 7% of its beef are exported live. This is a clear failure of our agriculture and industry policy, and it’s heartening to see the number of farmers now joining the swelling ranks of activists for export bans on live shipments.

You must have sympathy for Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, who brought in a temporary export ban but was soon overruled because of the huge political storm it created.

The reason of course is the fact that live exports have been the lifeline of the northern beef farmers and many sheep farmers through some very difficult times, and they simply will not countenance unions or anyone else threatening their commercial lifeline into Asia. As a result, it’s one of the most political of all industries and very resistant to change – the key reason for our inability to turn beef and sheep commodities into high-value foods.

So we’ve been kicking around some ideas here in Canberra about an Action Plan to value add beef and sheep through greater local processing. We figure it is both commonsense and totally consistent with the values of a Labor Government. Accordingly, we are proposing to build a collaborative joint venture ‘model’ for Minister Ludwig’s consideration.

I can’t go into detail here but it would basically apply this model to certain abattoirs in Australia. They would need to have progressive management that is amenable to working with unions, farmers and extension agencies to significantly lower costs at critical points along the supply chain. We figure that co-investment with enlightened foreign investors would also be smart in order to address some of the overseas market constraints. This is not rocket science – a group of us here in Canberra worked on the Button industry plans for steel, passenger motor vehicles, building and construction and textiles, footwear and clothing. The issues are not that different.

If your council is interested in being involved, please contact me ASAP.

This article appears in the December 2012 issue of LG Focus

Innovation of 190 Euro regions compared – Swiss and Germans shine

November 9, 2012

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2012 was published in early November- a comparative assessment of how European regions perform with regard to innovation. The report covers 190 regions across the European Union, Croatia, Norway and Switzerland. The Regional Innovation Scoreboard is based on the methodology of the Innovation Union Scoreboard (IP/12/102).

– 41 regions in the first group of “innovation leaders”
– 58 regions in the second group of “innovation followers”
– 39 regions are “moderate innovators”
– 52 regions are in the fourth group of “modest innovators”.

Considerable diversity in regional innovation performance not only across Europe but also within the Member States. The most pronounced examples are France and Portugal. Others in that category are Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom

The most homogenous countries are the moderate innovators Greece, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, where all regions except one each are also moderate innovators.

The situation is similar in Romania and Bulgaria where most or even all regions are modest innovators.

The most innovative regions in the EU are typically in the most innovative countries: Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland. In Germany, 12 out of 16 regions are innovation leaders. In Finland 3 out of 5 regions and in Sweden 5 out of 8 regions are innovation leaders.

Only in Denmark, the majority of the regions are innovation followers, and 2 out of 5 regions are innovation leaders, including the capital region of Copenhagen and Midtjylland. The regional innovation diversity is very low in non-EU Switzerland, which according to the Innovation Union Scoreboard 2011 outperforms all EU Member States: all Swiss regions except one are innovation leaders.