My Vision for the SA Economy
How do we transform South Australia into a place where private sector jobs are growing, where our kids have good and exciting employment options, where our state has more money and people flowing into it rather than leaving it?
At two candidate forums this campaign, we were all asked about the future of jobs in South Australia. The best that the two major party candidates could conjure was subs, a train line extension and building projects. These ideas did little to inspire the crowd, particularly the younger part of the audience.
It’s a fact that private sector jobs are shrinking in Adelaide every year. Unfortunately, we're not creating the kinds of businesses that will reverse this trend. There are certainly a few trying, but there are some challenges that are not even being acknowledged by my fellow candidates.
The three major challenges to overcome are:
- Lack of access to early-stage capital
- Lack of success in university-and-industry collaboration
- Lack of a clear strategy for the future of the local economy.
Although all three challenges are Australia-wide problems, in South Australia we suffer them even more acutely.
There are lots of articles written about Silicon Valley in California. I lived there myself for a number of years and witnessed firsthand the excitement, the new products and services, the jobs and the money that flowed into the area. Many experts claim that it is unique and cannot be replicated, but that is only partially true. We are just as smart, just as capable and live in a fantastic city. It will only be cooperation and collaboration that will overcome our challenges.
Tonsley Innovation District
One of the big opportunities for the future of Boothby’s economy is the Tonsley Innovation District, an initiative built on the site of the old Mitsubishi car factory. It has a new Flinders University building at one end, a new TAFE at the other and an enormous covered area in between. There’s a couple of organisations there offering services to new startups and one or two multi-nationals setting up some R&D. While it is a tremendous start, and a unique opportunity, the three challenges from above still apply: There’s still insufficient funding for new ventures; the great ideas coming out of the university are more likely to be bought by foreign interests than made into a local business; it’s still unclear how Tonsley will translate ideas into large, vibrant South Australian businesses.
South Australian Businesses
If we’re going to succeed, we have to create new businesses in new industries, serving global markets. They need to be South Australian companies, not just multi-nationals setting up here, because we need the profits coming back to SA and the ongoing commitment to the local economy and job market. We need to think bigger and solve global problems. The most pressing and profitable opportunities are in solving the world-wide problems of:
- Clean energy
- Global food production
True solutions to our challenges will require a collaborative effort between government, education and industry to come up with a cohesive, workable solution. Some ideas that I will bring to the table include:
- Reform of superannuation legislation, allowing for investment in early stage companies to be part of the investment mix
- Public-Private partnerships and funding for locally based venture capital organisations
- R&D grant incentives to universities that successfully partner with local industry partners in commercialising research
People wonder what I can do as an Independent? Most urgently, I can give a voice to the issues and highlight that none of the major party platforms are going to really address our unique South Australian situation.
Whatever the election result, this is the dawn of an evolving political culture. Economic necessities, social conscience, global problems will demand new blood in the system, in the policies and in the outcomes. I look forward to it.