Post COVID-19 predictions. A brave new world?

By John Kananghinis

Channelling Nostradamus – without the quatrains – we take a, not entirely serious, look into the near future.

Likely to be as accurate as the ABC’s Dr Norman Swan’s predictions that there would be 60,000 to 80,000 cases in Australia by mid-April (actually around 6,600 with over 4,000 recovered and less than 75 deaths).

Based on, probably, the same amount of in-depth analysis.

Domestic economy

  • Lots of empty CBD office space as companies realise they can have a significant proportion of their employees work from home.
  • High demand for home office equipment as the same companies gear-up staff for remote working.
  • Timid consumers when it comes to discretionary items.
  • Interest rates stay low for a decade.
  • House prices bounce back, except for apartments.
  • Unemployment rate at around 7%. Youth unemployment double that.
  • Shopping centres with many, ‘exciting new shopping experience coming soon’ hoardings on empty spaces.
  • No one mention the phrase ‘budget surplus’.
  • Not as many foreign students in the Melbourne CBD.
  • Universities crying poor and having to find ways to educate Australian kids.
  • Tourism, hospitality and entertainment jobs thin on the ground. Plus far fewer backpackers serving you at your fav trendy spots.
  • A bunch of hotels shutting up shop and being converted to apartments.
  • ASX popping up and down like a hip-hop dancer but gradually climbing back.

Australian politics

  • A great deal of difficulty for the Federal Government in retreating from the higher level of New Start (now rebranded Jobseeker) allowance. Same with the free childcare.
  • Saint ScoMo going to an election in 2021, before all the stimuli and incentives have been fully removed, and winning a thumping majority.
  • Politicians of all colours rediscovering a passion for Australian manufacturing – read lots of investment incentives.
  • Labor party has nowhere to go, seeing as Coalition has gone further left than they ever dared to dream.
  • Australia to never pay off government debt, becomes the perpetual political football for the next century.

Global politics

  • Finally, no one believes anything the Chinese Communist Party says.
  • Climate change what now? Gretta who?
  • India/China conflict becomes real possibility if India’s death toll from the virus becomes too great.
  • Trump loses to Biden and VP Kamala Harris or VP Michelle Obama. (Yup, that’s probably the biggest call of all).
  • Boris Johnson has his statue added to the panoply of heroes, colonists and rogues in Whitehall.
  • Italy changes government, at least twice, by the end of 2021.
  • Germans finally give up on ever seeing one euro cent of their money back from the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain).
  • National borders actually mean something again. Who knew Aus would be proved right on that one?
  • Instability in global markets and high unemployment open the door for right and left extremist parties to increase popularity. Both sides only needing a charismatic leader to push their agenda.
  • UN and various bodies like WHO face reform pressure but opt for resistance that sees their funding slashed.
  • US China trade war on again as Trump makes last desperate effort to look tough and CCP just waits him out.
  • Middle East – same.
  • Russia never discloses coronavirus death toll. Kremlin doesn’t care. Vladimir Putin still Tsar.


  • Much grumpiness about our third world standard NBN speeds. Thanks Rudd and Turnbull.
  • Turnbull memoir ‘A bigger picture’ (no, seriously, he wanted a bigger picture) the bargain bin winter read (or draft-stopper) of the year.
  • Not to be outdone. Rudd releases third tome entitled  ‘How I would have crushed coronavirus, if only that two faced f’n @#%* had backed me for UN Secretary General’.
  • No more Bali trips, so more tattooed and toothless on the Gold Coast. One wouldn’t think it possible, but it is.
  • Great OS travel deals, assuming you’re allowed into destinations and you don’t face an involuntary 14-day extension to your time away from home on return to Aus.
  • The ABC’s credibility plumbing new lows, given that they predicted we would all be dead by now, because we didn’t lock ourselves away for six months. While they continued to ‘work’ – and get paid.
  • Coronavirus beard growing becomes new status symbol. (Labelled misogyny by feminists)
  • New office game of spot the colleague’s naked partner walk across the background of screen in teleconference meetings.
  • Louis Vuitton release a range of tracksuit pant business wear. No, wait, they already do. No joke, LV monogramed Track Pant for the low, low price of $1,760.

But sadly

  • Africa and India suffer massive death toll from coronavirus. Near Asia not far behind.
  • We collectively learn little from this fiasco and the next one is worse, or worse still, deliberate.
Victorian government

Victorian Parliament: 18 days to clarity or nine to calamity

The Victorian Parliament has 18 more sitting days before it is prorogued to end one of its most dysfunctional periods of government.

The Victorian Parliament’s last sitting day of October 16 will then see the government move into the mandatory six weeks purdah period before the designated election on November 29.

Three sitting weeks in June and August, or nine days, will be without the disruptive suspended independent member Geoff Shaw who has been principally the instigator of this dysfunctional period.

He holds the balance of power and is set to return on September 2 when parliament resumes for two weeks in September and the final week of sitting starting on October 14.

It will be during this period that the parliament will either be able to deal with many of the infrastructure bills and other regulatory and legislative matters that the Coalition government wants signed off, or Victoria faces another destabilising period.

The State does not need the latter.  Politicians and their Party administrations need to ensure that they are there for the advancement of the State, not for personal headlines or egos that appeal to minorities and don’t make a significant contribution to the development of the State, or go towards achieving a vision for the State.

This is also the period in which private sector needs to put its cases to all political parties to get them either incorporated into election policies or have them addressed before the purdah period.

In the health sector, the government is looking at outsourcing many of its functions to the private sector, in the agriculture sector they are looking to expand trade into Asia as well as enhance local processing, in the mining sector they want to highlight the significance to the State to the future opportunities, including a direction on future onshore exploration, in the manufacturing sector they are looking at every opportunity to attract new industries and grow jobs.

Transport, health, education, law and order are key functionary elements that the community expect, but they are not visionary. They are necessities that governments must ensure they plan and manage well.  This is not to say that the parties could not turn education or health (medical research and best practice) into a vision for the state with a bit of thought!

However, the window for the private sector to act is narrowing. They must act now!

All parties will be running functions to meet with Leaders, Ministers, Shadow Ministers and candidates.  All are important to you in the information process, but you must ensure that your case addresses the current policies of all the parties, or seek to influence these policies.

If you are going down this path and want expertise counsel, talk with us. Experience and knowledge are the basis of our practice.

Robert Masters

Corporate reputation – good news can travel fast (if you work at it)

When it comes to corporate reputation, good news can travel fast, but we all know the news media likes a bad news story. It’s even better if bad news can raise the spectre of doom and destruction, be it physical or economic.

If the news media can keep its audience worried about an issue, chances are the audience will come back to find out more.  When an audience is hungry for a story, the media makes a buck.

The wall-to-wall coverage of actual or feared job losses at Holden, Toyota, SPC Ardmona and Qantas reflects the reality that bad news is big news.

In all of the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, with political players staking out positions, one simple fact is forgotten: economies change.

From SMH Economic Editor Ross Gittins in his March 5 comment: “Most people have no idea how much turnover there is in the jobs market. Every month tens of thousands of people leave their jobs and a similar or bigger number take up new jobs. The economy is in a continuous state of flux.”

The economy is an active and living process. To focus on the bad news story overlooks the job gains that take place as part of normal economic renewal.

So what to do if your company has good news to announce?

The risk to corporate reputation from job losses ensures that significant resources are allocated to managing such announcements. However, companies often let good news slip out without the degree of thought and planning that is attached to the not so good news.

In the current political and economic environment, governments of all levels and persuasions are looking for good news stories, particularly if jobs are attached. What may seem relatively unremarkable in corporate terms could hold significant positive news implications.

Allowing for the engagement of appropriate resources to maximise the good news value of any major initiative or expansion should be on the agenda of all corporate communicators.

With bad news, the best that can be done is to minimise the damage. With good news, the worst that can be done is to ignore it.

Working hard on your next good news announcement will ensure your name appears in the news for the right reasons and buys the public good will that can come in handy when things may not be so bright.



Lobbying – knowing what case to put to whom

Recently RMKA assisted one of our clients in lobbying policy makers to rectify a commercially detrimental departmental ruling that destroyed a business case for niche high-value local manufacture.

The client had taken the appropriate legal measures to challenge a departmental ruling but had been caught in a technical detail dead-end. To the point where even the legal advisors suggested that a revised policy direction should be sought.

RMKA reframed the matter in clear policy terms with all of the positive and negative implications outlined in language that had public and electoral resonance.  We then engaged with politicians who had a natural stake in a successful outcome and gained their support to take the matter to the appropriate Minister for policy direction.

The result was that the relevant government department was given instructions to work with the client to resolve the matter and to get the local manufacturing case back on track.

The point illustrated is that on occasions it may be more advantageous to present a policy argument to those charged with a broader public interest rather than to further pursue a narrow legal argument.  The trick is to know how to put the policy case forward and to whom to put it.

That’s why, be it a legal or policy argument to be made, the appropriate professionals should be engaged.

RMKA has over 30 years of experience in working with government and is listed on the Australian Government Register of Lobbyists and the Victorian Government Professional Lobbyists Register.