In a 60 Minutes‘ chat room last night Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey talked openly about the future of the Australian economy and how he is unsure as to when things will pick up again.

When asked the question of when he thought things will pick up again he replied “I don’t know. You can only listen to the best minds in the world and try to piece together what they are saying”.

“The best minds are probably out of America as they were the first into this and probably caused a lot of it,” he said.

“Other countries were not without fault but the Americans were in deep. So when they start to come out of it we will follow pretty much straight away. If they come out of it tomorrow we could come out of it the next day.”

One area of importance Harvey emphasised was that retailers have to keep a strong focus on customer service in order to remain strong in these troubling times.

“You have to emphasise customer service. But when things are difficult it should automatically follow that customer service is vital,” said Harvey.

Many of the questions being fired at Harvey revolved around the future of Australian jobs and one question asked what the government can do to make it less attractive to send jobs overseas.

“The government need to encourage local manufacturing at a higher level. I don’t think you can level a lot of criticism at the government over the past 20 years in that area,” he said.

“Perhaps the government could look at upgrading machinery and technology. Or putting it into manufacturing.”

“If you create one manufacturing job its better than creating one retail job. The flow on is greater.”

“It’s not about going out and saying we will employ people, its better if you can employ people growing or making things.”

To wrap up the online conversation he commented that regaining trust in the industry will be a major task in the future.

“To get through this and for money to flow freely again and for everyone to trust each other again is a major task.”