Some years ago, as Chairman of SA Great, I was the guest speaker at an alumni lunch of a well-known Adelaide private school. I spoke passionately about the need for significant population growth (in the order of 500,000) and of the positive impact that it would deliver to our economy, infrastructure and skills base.
My speech finished to resounding silence. One elderly lady raised her hand and asked “But what are they all going to drink?” I quipped that they would, of course, all drink Coopers.
Clearly she was referring to the water issues that we were facing at the time. My response was that if we can’t fix the water issue for the Adelaide that we aspire to be, we will never fix it for the Adelaide we are now. (That principle also applies to our current energy problems.)
The people at the same function who complained to me about not wanting to have to queue for anything or having to wait for a park, are the people who lament the fact that they don’t have much time with their children and grandchildren because they have left the State seeking other opportunities.
It seems the world has well and truly discovered Adelaide and South Australia. The Lonely Planet Top 10 ranking is the latest in a long line of wonderful accolades. I joked at a recent CEDA event that we are becoming so popular internationally that even South Australians are starting to like the place.
But all of this leads me to the real point: we either embrace the opportunities provided by this “money can’t buy” global recognition and, for example, the free trade agreements (FTAs) that open up new doors to international markets, or we will miss an extraordinary window to create the kind of economic growth, career options and cultural vibrancy that will not only hold on to our wonderfully educated kids but also get back many of those who have left.
I typically find that SA businesses which are thriving, creating jobs and investing are working in national and international markets. We celebrate this annually at our Business SA Export Awards.
Business SA is developing courses to get SA businesses “Export Ready” and to better understand the FTA opportunities. We provide a “one stop shop” for any business in the State that needs export documentation and advice, translation and migration services, grant assistance (and so on). We strongly support incoming and outgoing trade missions. All of this is because we know jobs and our future economic growth depend upon our readiness to seize these extraordinary global opportunities.
On behalf of the Board, management and staff of Business SA, I wish our business and employer community a safe festive season and a prosperous 2017.