Textor sees opportunity for changing industry’s public profile

By: Rob McKay

Reliability of transport and logistics has potential to be seen as a welcome constant in a changing world

Textor sees opportunity for changing industry’s public profile
Mark Textor sees opportunities.


The transport and logistics industry has a rare chance to change public and political attitudes towards it, according to high-profile pollster Mark Textor.

In an Australian Logistics Council Forum presentation, Textor paints a picture of an Australian public looking for reassurance having been bruised by huge and not always comforting change on the political and economic front both at home and abroad.

Saying the electorate is "suffering from economic performance anxiety", he argues that with the end of the resources boom but little indication of where the economic slack is being picked up and with political leaders being replaced at bewildering speed, calling into question the ability of governments to handle such challenges, the electorate is feeling exposed.

"You are in a unique position in that there is a yearning need in the community to hear about other areas of the economy that are doing well," Textor says.

"Whereas, people were kind of disinterested in your story five years ago, because everything was going well and they were not particularly looking for that story, that has changed.

"There is now a market, some demand, for stories of hope for the non-resources sector of the economy."

This is recognised amongst political parties, especially those in government, where value is seen in being able to promote a vision of where business is otherwise actually ‘as usual’.

But key to gaining political support is reassuring politicians that they will not be left holding the baby of sometimes unpopular reform after having expended political capital pushing it through.

"If you are able to campaign and communicate competently to the public, then they have more confidence in you," Textor says.

"If not you are unable to sell your story even in the most basic way, then they have no confidence you will go with them on regulatory change."

Beyond politics, he spoke of the new paradigm of "hyper-localism", whereby individuals and communities look to invest time and energy in areas where they do have control, rather than where they have no power.

This had led large corporations to seek favour by investing in sponsoring local amenities and suburban sports and recreation teams, which is more readily appreciated.

Textor also highlighted the need to couch public debate in terms the public understands, rather than in the policy shorthand found in Canberra, which, he says, has led to a two speed political economy.

"I personally want to ban the word ‘infrastructure’," he says, because, like "Gonski", which now stands for education reform, most people do not understand what it really means.  

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