Economic downturns are typically breading grounds for creativity and innovation. The global pandemic has afforded many time to evaluate and reconsider. A change in outlook also inevitably brings with it new opportunities. Ideas that percolate in periods of reflection often reveal themselves in the years to come when opportunities once again arise. A few thoughts emerging from the COVID-19 hibernation period;

Resilience - Flexibility and adaptability are qualities individuals, businesses and governments have been thinking about more deeply in recent years. Breweries re-purposing to supply hand sanitiser and fashion designers producing medical scrubs illustrates those that shift modes quickly benefit compared to others who are less flexible. This is a key for business moving forward, especially small business. Taking a broader view governments should consider maintaining ownership of our essential infrastructure networks and re-establishing local supply chains to ensure these networks are working in the public interest during times of critical need. We need to find a balance between maintaining strong local production and economies as well as being part of, as well as dependent on, a global economy.

A sustainable transition - Large sections of our economy have been disrupted and eroded by COVID-19 presenting us with a unique opportunity to transition to sustainable and renewable energy technologies in order to tackle climate change. The pandemic is a dramatic reminder we can’t always control our existence however we’ve been ignoring another less immediate, but equally important, issue for too long. To this point our politicians on both sides have let us down in this area. New employment focused on renewable technologies should be a strong priority in re-activating our economy.

Social equity - The people making decisions influencing how we support our vulnerable and disadvantaged are often not likely to require this type of support. The pandemic shows us many who thought they would never require it may one day need be dependent themselves. The extent and scale of change to combat COVID-19, implemented within a short space of time, demonstrates change can occur quickly if we have the collective desire to make it happen. If only a small portion of the economic stimulus rolled out is continued to our most vulnerable after the recovery it would generate meaningful change. Construction of social housing should also be a significant element of our COVID-19 economic recovery.

Cultural capital - The Arts have the potential to contribute much more significantly to Western Australia’s economy. As well as bringing commonly acknowledged social benefits, by nature, the arts is a sustainable economic generator. Cities such as Melbourne have invested heavily in their arts and creative industries over many years, reaping the economic rewards through national and international arts focused tourism. Western Australia has a dis-proportionally large number of high quality artists however many are largely unknown. Low funding levels as well as a poorly developed framework and strategy is limiting this sector greatly. Like many our cultural communities are suffering during the pandemic but they could activate quickly to generate immediate economic as well as social benefits during the COVID-19 recovery and beyond.

Such disruption embodies opportunity for meaningful change. Let’s hope we can look back on the global COVID-19 pandemic as a turning point towards a more resilient, sustainable, socially equitable and creative future.

July 2020