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Geoff Hattam argues that people, as well as investment, can boost a sluggish South Australian economy.
Did you know that less than six per cent of Australia’s medium and large businesses are based in South Australia?
Before everyone thinks that I’m about to make the case solely for larger businesses to be lured to the state, I’m not. I know more than most that small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of our economy.
But don’t you think it’s a rather startling figure, given the state’s population share?
Why is it that so many medium and large organisations choose our Eastern cousins over us when looking to headquarter operations? Okay, so we can agree that the polish that the bigger cities can put on themselves might account for some of that. If a company wants to base itself in Sydney because, well, it’s Sydney there might not be much we can do about that.
But there are lots of reasons to believe that South Australia could be performing much better when it comes to attracting companies to the state.
Here’s the crux: South Australia is superbly placed to significantly improve growth in a number of sectors so the outlook is definitely not as pessimistic as some would have you believe.
At Altitude Advisory, we see at least three key sectors that are just ripe for growth; agribusiness, tourism and energy. These sectors are performing well, if not spectacularly, but the key point is that we already have much of the expertise and infrastructure to grow them into genuine world leaders, never mind Australian top dogs.
South Australia’s gross state product will be worth more than $1 trillion in the next decade.
How can we grow this more? Well, when you want to improve something, it has to be done with people… the right people.
This is another area where we can significantly improve. Deloitte Access Economics recently reported that natural population growth – births over deaths – will fall to almost zero in the longer term. Does this limit our potential for growth? We think so.
Making the right investments is only half the story; you must have a workforce that can boast the best and brightest. We already have some of them, but we need more. Strong population growth is one of the key indicators of economic health. On that scale, the report card would read, ‘must do better’ in this state.
So let’s not rest on our laurels and be happy with our lot. Let’s make a stronger push for the right investment and the right people.
Phillip Cross, Royce Cross Agencies
Gloria Rowett, Marion Holiday Park