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Time to focus on business and science


Brigid Veale
20 November 2006
Australia is in danger of becoming a third world tourist destination if it does not participate more aggressively in the world of science and business, according to former News Corporation executive Gary Davey.

Mr Davey will be the keynote speaker at the Australian Association for Institutional Research (AAIR) annual forum hosted by Southern Cross University at Novotel Pacific Bay Resort in Coffs Harbour from November 22 to 24.

The conference will bring together close to 100 representatives from universities in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.

Mr Davey said Australia faced some fundamental decisions in the coming five years.

“Australia needs to decide whether it wants to participate in the world of science and business or whether, as a nation, we are happy to become a third world tourist spot,” Mr Davey said.

“The outcome will be decided by our capacity for courage and leadership. The signs, quite frankly, are not good.

“We suffer a dangerous combination of the tall-poppy syndrome, a non-existent venture capital community, a small and short-sighted investment base and a self-destructive fear of failure.

“Despite our preferred image as a nation of go-getter ratbags, I believe we suffer a dangerous allergy to risk and failure, a trait that often applies to Australians as a race, but more destructively to many of us working in business and science.”

Mr Davey spent 19 years as a senior executive in News Corporation in New York, London and Hong Kong. He was the chief executive officer of STAR TV, a multi-channel satellite television network and was involved in the initial stages of Sky Channel.

In 1999 he left News Corp and returned to Australia, where he lives in Coffs Harbour. He has been the chief executive of Ultrasonic Cardiac Output Monitor (USCOM) Ltd since its inception as a company in 2000.

Other speakers at the forum will include Professor Deborah Ralston, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Division of Business Law and Information Sciences at the University of Canberra, and Professor Geoff Scott, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Quality) at the University of Western Sydney.

Mr Don Johnston, research officer with Southern Cross University, said the forum would cover topics such as institutional management and planning, institutional research and student administration and experience.

“We are pleased to be hosting this forum in Coffs Harbour, which will bring together university representatives from around the country and overseas. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our University and the region,” Mr Johnston said.

The Australian Association for Institutional Research was established in 1988. It is designed to benefit, assist and advance research which leads to the improved understanding, planning and operation of tertiary education institutions within Australasia.

The forum will be held at Novotel Pacific Bay Resort from November 22 to 24, with an opening function at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery on Wednesday, November 22.