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I rise tonight to speak in relation to the age-old maxim 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' and why that is still relevant today. In 2017 the Turnbull government committed to developing a stronger national brand after the release of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. The National Brand Advisory Council was established with a brief to create a national brand which was to be 'easily understood, consistently recognisable, quintessentially Australian and adaptable for different uses and industries'. The national brand website states:
A strong nation brand defines our aesthetic as a nation and provides a set of principles that governs the expression of our identity.
They set about creating a new brand using the time honoured techniques of stakeholder engagement, deep dives, domestic industry consultation, market testing. No doubt they took several helicopter views and probably did some branding exercises only to pivot over into some vertical integration. Where would we be without corporate buzzwords!
For the princely sum of $10 million for the Australian taxpayer, the National Brand Advisory Council produced a report which contained inspirational words, glossy photos and even Venn diagrams. They produced the infamous wattle logo with 'AU' in the middle—a logo which was touted as an 'optimistic burst of gold positivity' and which was going to promote Australia as a brand to an international audience, but a logo which was also unfavourably compared to the coronavirus. I must say that I didn't see coronavirus in the design, but I did see a waste of money. After all, we were already utilising a logo which, as the board suggested, was 'easily understood, consistently recognisable, quintessentially Australian and adaptable for different uses'. The famous, iconic and entirely recognisable green-and-gold kangaroo logo is a logo which has been used for 34 years and was doing the requisite job quite adequately.
Coincidentally, today is 1 September—Wattle Day. But, sadly, only in this country do we really know what the wattle means to us. The rest of the world doesn't identify with the wattle in the same way that we do, but they do identify with the kangaroo and they do identify with the Australian Made push. I was pleased to hear that the minister for trade has identified that the kangaroo logo will be reinstated and that the wattle logo will be scrapped. The Australian Made Campaign chairman, Mr Glenn Cooper AM, has noted that the Australian Made logo will continue its pivotal role as Australia's domestic and overseas branding strategy. Mr Cooper, who is a great South Australian, says:
The iconic green and gold kangaroo logo has been clearly identifying Australian goods in export markets for more than 34 years with great success.
It is by far Australia's most recognised and trusted country-of-origin symbol and is central to the export strategies of Aussie exporters taking their goods abroad. There is no need to make a change in this space.
I'm glad to hear that the kangaroo logo will be retained, but I would go a step further and say that the rebranding exercise shouldn't go ahead.
We already have a great logo—one which is known and which is instantly recognisable. While this experience, in my mind, has shown the divide between corporate Australia and everyday Australia, now more than ever, with a push to rebuild our manufacturing industry, we need to go back to the future and stick with what we know. Sometimes in life, one answers questions which don't need to be asked, and this is my view of what's happened here. In the case of this branding exercise, it ain't broke so let's not fix it.
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