Day 226: Battle for Bennelong

Day 226: Battle for Bennelong

Day 226: Battle for Bennelong

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Political hopeful and Labor star recruit Jason Yat-sen Li recently outlined his vision for the seat of Bennelong, the seat he hopes to win in the upcoming Federal election on September 7. This particular electorate is of some interest to the media because it was once long held by former Prime Minister John Howard before he was famously ousted by former ABC presenter Maxine McKew in 2007, and has since gone to minor tennis celebrity John Alexander. And my interest in Bennelong? Well, it’s where I live, so I thought it’d be worth giving Li’s ideas a serious look.

According to media reports, Li envisions turning Bennelong into “the Silicon Valley of Australia”. Silicon Valley, home to many of the world’s largest and most successful technology corporations, including Apple, Adobe, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Intel, nVidia, Cisco, AMD and more, apparently has many parallels with Bennelong according to Li. You see, in Bennelong, we have the CSIRO, Microsoft, Optus and Foxtel. And just as the San Francisco Bay Area is home to Stanford University, Bennelong is home to Macquarie University.

To be honest, I stopped reading at this point because of how patently absurd these comparisons are. With all due respect to anyone associated with Macquarie University, but it is not even remotely in the same league as Stanford. Furthermore, anyone familiar with Microsoft knows that the North Ryde office is (and again, with all due respect to the people there) a glorified international sales and marketing branch: the real innovation happens on a stupendously large campus the size of a suburb in Redmond, Washington. The CSIRO is a completely fair call, but Optus and Foxtel are highly questionable at best.

And there’s one more thing to consider. Ask anyone from the Bay area, and they will tell you the same thing: Silicon Valley has massive pollution problems. As in, birth defect-causing, cancer-inducing, water contamination problems. It should go without saying I’d rather not bring such problems here.

Even if you could overcome these obstacles, how long would it take? How much would it cost?

Somehow I don’t think this vision was thought through very well.

2 thoughts on “Day 226: Battle for Bennelong

  1. Interesting views – we agree that Bennelong isn’t a carbon copy of Silicon Valley – nor should it be. But the question is can we take the best from there and transfer it to our local context? To create jobs and keep the best minds in Australia? It would be great if you could come along to the Innovation Forum we’re organising on 28 August at Macquarie University – we’re about to post all the details. Jason Li’s Team

  2. I will agree with a lot more of what you say, except for the “minor tennis celebrity” description of John Alexander. Surely winning the Davis Cup Final for your country, a top ten player, coach of the national team and receiving an Order of Australia Medal for your services to your nation ranks a bit higher than minor?

    Re Macquarie Park, it is known as Pill Hill for a reason: it is the home of pharmaceutical companies. And whilst they may be innovative and invest in R&D, it’s a long bow to compare this to Silicon Valley (thankfully for all our health)

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