29 March 2020
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When Harry met Meghan

As I drove back to the Sydney CBD after doing my 7.20am Friday morning spot on Sky News, I got that wonderful tingly feeling that we need to feel more often to prove that living is such a stroke of great luck! And it’s something we need to feel more often to ensure we’re creating a snowball of positivity rather than a big rolling mass of negative anxiety.

You won’t be surprised that what I’m talking about had a fair bit of fear and loathing — after all, we are talking about news! The subjects I put forward for the news hosts, Laura Jayes and Kieran Gilbert, to grill me over were:

• Trump and the trade war.

• Fiscally irresponsible Italians talking about leaving the EU.

• Saudis who want to ‘weaponize’ oil prices because they’re being criticized for probably killing a Saudi/US citizen journalist.

• Market-hype talk that the US Fed will raise interest rates too quickly and could cause a recession; and

• The silly stock prices of the FAANG stocks, which include Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google.

Oh yes, I did slip in the great news that unemployment had dropped to a 6-year low of 5%. In Victoria, it’s a 10-year low! Call me an economist but I get a tingle when I think of someone who hasn’t got a job and gets one. And why shouldn’t we feel happy and excited that we have seen over 400,000 jobs created over the past 18 months? That’s a huge positive development that we all should be happy to celebrate.

So what was it that got me tingly on Friday morning? Well, I have to say, seeing the young Royal couple deliver positive vibes to school children at Albert Park, down on South Melbourne beach and out where they need a lift — in drought-plagued Dubbo — has even got this hard-nosed cynic ready for positivity. And who couldn’t like Prince Harry with his commitment to the Invictus Games?

And then I heard on the radio news that the Prince and PM Morrison were going to scale the Bridge using the great Paul Cave’s Bridgeclimb operation to hoist the Invictus flag atop of Australia’s great Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Yep, the spectacle of Harry’s great innovation to honour the heroes, who lost a part of themselves in lining up to be a part of a group of people who are prepared to risk their lives to protect others, should never be dismissed or left unappreciated.

But the tingle even grew inside this oddball economist, who actually loves the idea that a whole pile of Poms in the Old Dart will see Harry and Scott send the flag up the pole. And I thought about the potential tourism effect! Yep, I warned you that I’m a weird kind of economist who loves the idea that our economy is on a roll.

Mind you, the weirdness is not that I love positive economic statistics that prove my optimism wasn’t misplaced in believing in our economy and, to a lesser extent, the Government’s policy of “jobs and growth”, it’s the social impact on someone getting a job and small business owners seeing profits as well as success. I get a kick out of that kind of thing!

And that’s what Governments should be breeding — economic success feeding into positivity, which in turn leads to optimistic businesses/employers who create more jobs. Then it’s one big virtuous cycle of growth!

Let’s not even think the of the opposite but let me say there have been economists, media types, fund managers and other doomsday merchants who have nearly wished the opposite upon us. Thankfully they’ve been wrong since the GFC.

Back to Harry on the Bridge. That image will be a huge plus for Aussie tourism, as will Meghan Markle — the Duchess of Sussex — frolicking on Bondi. Meghan was a huge star on the TV programme Suits and the show has never been the same since her and her TV hubbie Mike headed to Seattle!

It might be a coincidence but those two tourist magnets — Harry and Meghan — have done their bit for local tourism, in a week when we learnt that over the year to August a record 1,435,700 tourists came to Australia from China, up by 7.7%! A record 343,700 Indian tourists travelled to Australia over the year to August, up by 19.8% and a record 199,400 Indonesian tourists visited Australia over the past year, up by 6%.

So how important are foreigners swanning around the place taking pics and creating queues in great eateries?

Well, in 2016-17, it’s a $54 billion industry, employing 598,200 people, its export value is $37.2 billion, which is 10% of our total! And each one of these dear little travellers is worth $4,347 to us when they comes to our beloved shores!

And linking this to Harry and the Bridge, a few years back a BBC survey of Brits asked what they wanted to do before they die. Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge was high on their list!

When I pondered the positivity of this Prince Harry yarn and the associated tingle it gave me, that made me write this story, which could pass on the good vibes, hopefully to you. I started to think how our politicians waste so much time putting out fires started by warring parties and bloodthirsty journalists.

Don’t get me wrong, when something stinks in Canberra, my media mates have to rip into the issues but hell, our paid reps do waste a lot of time and our money dealing with negative, trivial issues.

Do I care where Malcolm Turnbull is and whether he supports the Liberal Party that dumped him? No, I don’t. And while I know some people genuinely do (and good on them), I want my politicians fighting the drought, the bad behaviour of our financial institutions, the poor showing of religious groups when it comes to child abuse and the creation of jobs for Aussies, both young and old.

I look forward to the day when a serious politician with real gravitas looks at a journalist the way Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke dismissively looked at Norman Gunston, when he asked a funny question on the steps of the old Parliament House, just after Gough had lost his job! Have a look – I’m sure you’ll laugh!

Enjoy the weekend. Peter

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