Mitchell: 'Australia on the edge of getting it unbelievably wrong'

Mitchell: 'Australia on the edge of getting it unbelievably wrong'

Advertising veteran Harold Mitchell has warned Australia is “on the edge of getting it all so unbelievably wrong”, arguing that bigger is better in the digital economy.

Mitchell, speaking at Southern Cross Austereo’s Engage Live event in Hobart yesterday, delivered a patriotic speech comparing the changes in advertising over the past 37 years to the challenges facing Australia and the industry today.

The growth of his media business was used as proof that “you can do anything on a world scale from this part of the world” but added “being big is important", urging business to form alliances if they aren’t individually large.

Similarly, he said Australia “can do anything” but we need “to be bigger and part of the world”.

“I’ve built Australia’s biggest, and we would argue Australia’s best media advertising business. We were tiny Tasmania I can tell you our business, against these big world firms.”

The challenge facing the advertising industry and Australian economy now is the rising Asian economy which Mitchell said will be 50% of the world’s economy by 2050.

“Australia is in a wonderful, wonderful position but we could well be on the edge of getting it all so unbelievably wrong,” he said.

“Australia we are at two minutes to midnight, we have to grab hold of what we are doing in Asia. We have to realise that Asia’s middle class, like all middle class people in the world, want only four things.

“Firstly, they want to eat better. Can we be the better food bowl? Of course we can be, but only if we concentrate on doing it. Secondly, they want a holiday. Thirdly, not in this order, they want better health. Finally, fourthly, they want better education.”

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