SOUTH Australian Premier and Treasurer Jay Weatherill last week released an Economic Statement that provides an assessment of the state's economic prospects and aims to reassert the state's strategic priorities and outline how they will be achieved.
According to the government, the Statement sets out a very clear choice to focus on four areas of the economy that will make the most difference – advanced manufacturing, a vibrant city, clean premium food and mining services.
"We have a strong, diverse and resilient economy, but South Australians also know that we have always had to be more focused and more careful than other States to stay ahead of the game. We don't have many of the advantages of other places," Mr Weatherill said.
"Under any scenario, our economy is predicted to grow but how much we grow depends on what we do now."
Mr Weatherill said that while the Statement reassured South Australians about the economy, it shows that further changes are needed to ensure a prosperous economy and sets out a plan for the future.
"If we get all of this right, we can not only keep everything we value about South Australia but add to it a thriving and prosperous economy which will ensure our children and their friends see South Australia as a place to make their future," Mr Weatherill said.
The Economic Statement is available from the South Australian Government's Economic Statement 2013 website at <http://www.premier.sa.gov.au/ecostat>. A summary of the Economic Statement's key strategic priorities is below.
A vibrant city
The Statement outlines a vision for the City of Adelaide to double its population and become an active and inviting city, 24 hours a day. It envisions a thriving sporting and entertainment precinct on the riverbank and a city that projects the state's values of creativity and openness to the world.
"The increased vibrancy and the physical revitalisation the city has attracted a new wave of professional and design innovation bringing with it the young professionals who want to live and work in the city," the Statement writes.
However, identifies some challenges, principally that Adelaide has "a reputation for being staid and lacking economic and cultural opportunities for younger demographics" resulting in negative net interstate migration and many young people leaving for interstate or international opportunities.
The priority actions to create a vibrant city in the Statement include:
- Increasing density in the city and city fringe;
- Continuing the investment in the riverbank and health precincts and encouraging private investment;
- Activating the city;
- Reducing red tape for cultural and hospitality-oriented businesses to be established; and
- Facilitating the growth of the 'creative economy' by capturing benefits of the arts and cultural festivities and institutions.
The government expresses its commitment to the future of manufacturing as a cornerstone of the state economy and says the strategic priority of growing advanced manufacturing is central to achieving robust economic growth into the future.
However, the Statement says that manufacturing has suffered from decreased demand due to lower unit cost products being offered by competitors and the high Australian dollar affecting export markets and trade exposed sectors.
The priority actions to facilitate the growth of advanced manufacturing include:
- Pursuing innovation to achieve productivity improvements;
- A focus on developing products that compete on value, rather than cost;
- Clustering of similar businesses to facilitate sharing the costs of innovation;
- Supporting industry incubators to develop businesses and innovation concepts; and
- Improving skills within the workforce.
"Given the significant growth in the contribution from the mining sector to the economy, and the nascent impending growth it is imperative that strategies are pursued to both maintain the growth in minerals and energy production, and also ensure other sectors of the economy receive the flow-on benefits from this economic activity," the Statement writes.
The statement outlines a number of actions that aim to maximise the flow-on benefits of mining and ensure that regions benefit from uplifts in economic activity in their locale. The priority actions include:
- Assisting the coordination and planning of regional infrastructure development;
- Support mining-related innovation, research and development through the establishment of the Mining and Engineering Centre, as well as support for South Australia's universities;
- Maintain regulatory certainty and reducing red tape for project proponents;
- Pursuing the growth of the mining services sector; and
- Assisting Adelaide and regional towns become preferred locations for 'Fly In - Fly Out' workers.
Premium food and wine
The Statement envisions South Australia being renowned as a producer of food and wine from its clean water, clean air and clean soil.
While agricultural commodities and wine comprise a significant proportion of South Australia's exports, the Statement warns that the state's food and wine products are under pressure from low labour cost countries and a high Australian dollar.
The priority actions contained in the Statement to increase production and market the state's premium food and wine include:
- Marketing food and wine as premium and environmentally sustainable;
- Leveraging food and wine tourism;
- Maintaining the advantage of a comparatively 'green economy' through sustainable environmental and resource management practice; and
- Increasing value add production in our food and wine manufacturing.
The Economic Statement is available from the South Australian Government's Economic Statement 2013 website at <http://www.premier.sa.gov.au/ecostat>.