It’s Australia Day weekend, and time for festivities. It’s a time to stop to appreciate the good in Australia, and equally, time to contemplate what it means to be Australian. As a relatively new citizen that’s only been here for 20 years, I always find this a time to reflect and appreciate.

Life is good in this country, and we are very lucky. But, how do we ensure that the people who come after us feel the same way in 20, 30 or even 50 years? When I reflect, I think about how it came to be so good. What have been the key ingredients and how do we keep the good and change the bad? First, we need to be able to analyse without bias. This is not easy when involved, but important.

My views may be wrong, but the way I see it is that:

  • We were born with it – the resources under the ground have had a lot to do with success
  • Right place, right time – the rapid and massive growth of China has helped fuel our own development
  • Having the right relations – being part of the Commonwealth during the days of ‘growing up’ must have had a useful effect
  • Good education — education isn’t behind a barrier for Australians
  • Experienced tough times, and learned
  • Tolerance
  • Invested for the long view — the Sydney Harbour Bridge, for example.

During the times of plenty over the past 30 years, there has been some neglect, in the areas of infrastructure and education in particular. We have potentially also lived beyond our means. The debt levels are unacceptable.

Countries need to be looked after, because they can and do degrade if they are not curated and developed effectively.

While it is natural for matter to form, grow and then disintegrate — and it occurs with humans, companies and countries — prevention is achieved through growth. We’ve had a wonderful recent history but the challenge now is to beat the odds and make our recent run of good times persist.

So what will it take? 

First of all, I’d be happy if Australia is as good as this in 50 years. Most people around the world would do anything to live in this country. Many do. That means we have choice around what skills we need and should grow.

I would love to hear one of our leaders describe their vision for the country. With an election coming up, it would be a wonderful start. It is important because vision dictates strategy.

In addition, I think we should continue to appreciate and be grateful for what we have, while remaining self-sufficient, and independent of others.

We need to educate, educate, educate. This is how we will develop the skills we will need to build our country of the future.
And then there are things we need to be aware of, that mirror or emulate the behaviours of a successful investor — because that us what we are doing, investing in the Australia of the future.

We need to accept that tougher times aren’t necessarily bad, because it is in tough times that opportunities can be found.

We also need to focus on the vision, and long-term view— while enjoying the journey and living in the present.

Any investment is ultimately only as good as the country in which it resides. Financial success needs an honest assessment of where we are and how we got here – good or bad. But the foundations on which they are built significantly impact investment returns.

Celebrating Australia Day is better if done at both a superficial and fun level, as well as at a deeper level.