To help mark the Marshall Liberal Government's first 12 months of delivering for South Australia, the Premier made a key note address at the CEDA 2019 Economic and Political Overview event.
It’s great to be in a room that brings together the energy of South Australia’s leaders.
Our state is experiencing above trend growth…
And nation leading business confidence.
That’s not my commentary – its commentary from leading economists and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
This Sunday marks 12 months since South Australians voted for a change of government.
It’s a great time to reflect on some of the things we have done during our first year.
And more importantly, to lay out our priorities going forward.
But first, there are a few acknowledgements I’d like to make:
We meet on the traditional land of the Kaurna people and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their country.
Melinda Cilento, Chief Executive of CEDA; Hamilton Calder, CEDA State Director for South Australia and the Northern Territory;
Those who have already contributed to this update this morning: - Kristina Clifton, Senior Economist, Commonwealth Bank of Australia; - Andy Keough, Managing Director, SAAB Australia; and - Jane Pickering, CEO of Eldercare.
Ladies and gentlemen, what a difference one year, a new state government, and renewed business confidence has made to our state’s economy.
When we were elected, I told my ministers that in sharp contrast to our
predecessors, we would under-promise and over-deliver.
I asked them to embrace humility, accountability and delivery as the watchwords for everything they do as ministers.
A year in, I publicly thank them for their response. Working together we have:
- Restored a robust and rigorous cabinet process for governing and implementing our reform agenda;
- Enhanced government accountability, efficiency and delivery by ensuring agency chief executives no longer report to multiple ministers;
- Demonstrated respect for our workforce by recognising the key role of the public sector in implementing our reform agenda; and
- Maturely managed our relationships with the Federal Government and the other states and territories to the significant benefit of South Australia.
Can we do more?
We can, and we certainly will...
Even though we introduced the biggest round of tax cuts in our State’s history....
Initiated a record infrastructure program....
Established the Skilling South Australia Program to create 20,800 traineeships and apprenticeships...
And landed the National Space Agency for Adelaide.
These are important achievements...
But not ends in themselves.
Because there’s a lot more for us to do...
A lot of time to make up....
We spent much of our first year putting the foundations in place for much better government.
As we begin our second year, we commit to building quickly and creatively on those foundations....
So South Australia continues to become much stronger and more confident about our future, the place we hold in our nation and how the rest of the world regards us.
I believe actions and achievements speak louder than words and we will continue to focus on delivery.
As an example, the announcement last year that Adelaide would be home to the Australian Space Agency speaks to what South Australia is becoming and what more we can be.
A NEW MIND-SET
Securing the Space Agency showed just what can be achieved with an ambitious focus on the future...
When the collective enterprise and energy of South Australians is unleashed...
When we meticulously plan and credibly advocate for our State.
We didn’t win because we were owed...
We won because we were committed and convincing.
We were ready to lift our aspirations above existing frontiers.
Securing the space agency was one of those important psychological moments in time, if you like.
When South Australia threw off its inferiority complex...
Rediscovered our self-respect...
And started to feel better about ourselves again....
When a lot of people came together around the conviction that yes, we will show Australia how again...
We can do this.
Not just the government and other parties in the parliament whose support was important...
But our growing space sector...
Start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs...
The universities Training and skills providers...
Individuals with ideas and inspiration, convinced this was something South Australia had to shoot for.
In all, an eco-system that reflects a new mind-set in South Australia about what we can become.
A mind-set based on strength, not weakness...
On enterprise, not entitlement...
Co-operation, not confrontation.
Effective government co-ordination...
Without the need for government interference and control.
And what is happening now on the site of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital –
re-badged Lot 14 – shows it’s a mind-set that has taken root and is flowering...
A mind-set that there is little South Australia can’t achieve as we reach beyond the stars.
LOT 14 – A NEW DIRECTION
At Lot 14 we’ll have, in addition to the headquarters of our nation’s new space agency:
Start-ups and entrepreneurs generating new ideas for the market;
High-growth businesses exploring new technologies to build on their established success;
Investors with a solid pipeline of opportunities to back emerging and growing businesses; and
Successful entrepreneurs mentoring and guiding future entrepreneurs.
I’m convinced the energy being generated around Lot 14 will spread across our State - and well beyond - as Lot 14 grows into a global creation and innovation neighbourhood.
It’s a place that will create high-value jobs and industries ... to help secure our State’s economic future and position Adelaide as the start-up capital of our nation.
The neighbourhood is enabled as a GigCity precinct with very high-speed internet connection.
The market response to Lot 14 is already very strong.
Seventy percent of available commercial space is committed or under negotiation.
Five tenants have moved in and more than 175 people are already collaborating in the neighbourhood.
An estimated 1,000 people will be working at Lot Fourteen by later this year.
More than 50 industry and public events have been held on site so far, attracting more than 30,000 visitors.
We’ve moved quickly during the past 12 months to unlock the huge potential of Lot 14.
Our creation and innovation neighbourhood is already beginning to thrive because it is being established within heritage buildings retained on the site.
As demolition work continues on the rest of the site, we’re also progressing the two other major projects we committed for Lot 14 – the International Centre for Tourism, Hospitality and Food Studies and the National Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery.
To support our planning, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commonwealth for the negotiation of a City Deal focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. [pause]
I’ve used what is happening at Lot 14 as one window for you into the economic and other priorities of my government.
At the same time, we’ve been working hard across the entire public sector to put the essential foundations in place to provide much better government for all South Australians.
JOB CREATION AND INVESTMENT ATTRACTION
My government took office 12 months ago with a clear mandate to pursue economic growth.
With the right mind-set, there is great opportunity to do so...
But we need to be much more open to the world.
The Government has had a close look at how South Australia undertakes international engagement to support all our exporters.
This month we’ve released a major report on what more we intend to do to build on the work we’ve undertaken in our first year... to re-establish effective engagement
with key markets overseas.
I’ve made it clear my government is not in the business of singling out businesses for special treatment.
We want all industries to grow and succeed...
That’s why we’ve established three new funds:
The Economic and Business Growth Fund;
Regional Growth Fund; and
Research, Commercialisation and Start-up Fund.
They are targeted not at individual companies but towards opportunities that provide broader strategic economic development benefit to the state.
We’re currently considering a number of industry sector proposals for support from the $100 million Economic and Business Growth Fund.
We have focussed on getting the economic fundamentals right, and we have seen a market response with a strong lift in capital investment in South Australia over the past 12 months.
SKILLS AND TRAINING
As well as a completely new approach to growing our whole economy, my Government firmly believes growing a skilled workforce is another way in which we can better support all businesses.
Accordingly, we are delivering a fresh start for TAFE with additional support of more than $100 million over the next 3 years.
These additional resources will support improved service delivery and implement a new quality system.
To guide TAFE into a better future, David Coltman will take up the position of Chief Executive in mid- April.
He is a prize catch for South Australia.
David comes from a Deputy Vice Chancellor’s role at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology and brings valuable leadership experience in the vocational education and training sector to his new role.
Over four years, we’re also investing more than $200 million in skills and training to create 20,800 apprenticeships and traineeships.
On our election, we made it a priority to be the first State to secure Federal Government support from the Skilling Australians Fund.
And for good reason.
With the establishment of the National Space Agency, the pace quickening on the Naval Ships Building Project, and the revitalisation of the Whyalla Steelworks through a $600 million upgrade, there has never been a better time to take up an apprenticeship or traineeship in South Australia.
To maximise these and other opportunities, we’ve revitalised the Training and Skills Commission to provide industry with a stronger voice.
A refreshed commission commenced in January. It includes leaders from key sectors including defence, aerospace, IT and cybersecurity, construction, mining and energy.
Industry skills councils are also being established to ensure we receive direct feedback from those at the coalface on priorities for skills, training and workforce development and that government investment is aligned with industry requirements.
The greatly increased funding we’ve been able to allocate to skills and training is one major outcome of the co-operative relations we have with the Federal Coalition Government.
Another is the progress being made to address South Australia’s need to grow our population.
While we’re doing all we can to train and skill South Australians, skilled and business migration also remain important.
I recently presented the Prime Minister with a submission which also had input from Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
The three of us face different population challenges to the eastern states.
We have to grow our populations to deal with some of the significant skills constraints we have, while increased business migration is also an important opportunity to generate more investment.
With the Prime Minister seeking a population strategy driven from the bottom up, our submission seeks to encourage: more skilled and business migration; increase our share of international students; and keep more young South Australians living and working in their home state.
Let me look for a moment at the international student market.
Shortly after our election, we established a Ministerial Advisory Committee for International Education - comprising representatives from all sectors of the international education industry in South Australia.
The work of this Committee has now advanced to the stage where ambitious new targets are being finalised for the next decade.
The potential is significant when it’s considered that for every four international student enrolments, one local job is created.
This is just one reason why population growth must be a high priority.
We’ll soon be rolling out a number of initiatives to generate greater population growth.
Because South Australia must take charge of our population future.
Now let me turn to energy policy.
In January, South Australia experienced record high temperatures. This tested us all.
The Government’s focus was people, families and businesses in South Australia. [pause]
To ensure their power was not interrupted when it was most needed...
We worked closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)...
We acted swiftly and early to reduce power consumption at government operations and sites...
We also worked closely with large energy users to reduce demand on the grid.
It will take time to restore strength and resilience to our electricity system, to improve reliability and reduce costs to consumers.
In the coming years, an interconnector with New South Wales, new generation and the co-ordination of distributed resources, such as batteries, are critical to arrest the decline and restore the strength of the system.
This is why it is so critical for the South Australian Government to continue to deliver on our energy solution.
This includes fast-tracking the interconnector, developing grid scale storage and supporting the largest rollout of home batteries per capita in the world.
It’s an approach that has been strongly endorsed by AEMO.
It is based on practical, common-sense policy and not ideology.
I’ve referred to a range of major initiatives we have implemented in our first year to help create a growing, stronger, more confident South Australia and foreshadowed
further initiatives as we move into our second year of government.
While pursuing these initiatives, we have had to undertake considerable budget repair to ensure government finances are on a sound and sustainable footing for the long term.
So let me conclude this Economic and Political Overview with some commentary on the State’s financial strategy.
When introduced, the last budget of our predecessors projected a net operating surplus of $72 million for 2017-18.
But the final outcome was a $313 million operating deficit.
This was a deterioration over 12 months of $385 million – or more than $1 million a day.
Our strategy to deal with the challenges we have inherited and to provide the tax relief needed by families and businesses across the State requires strict discipline with spending. Our significant restraint in recurrent spending means growth in total operating expenses is limited to a nominal 1.6% per annum over the cycle.
Our approach to budget management has been recognised, with rating agency S&P upgrading South Australia to double A plus off the back of our first budget.
A fortnight ago, the task of budget repair was made even more challenging with the Commonwealth Grants Commission estimating a reduction of $329 million next financial year in GST funding to South Australia.
This makes it all the more imperative that all government agencies deliver on the savings task they were given in our first budget.
Our first budget also provided $11.3 billion over four years for investment in productive infrastructure.
On average, this is $250 million more per year than our predecessors invested in their last year of office.
We believe with a continuation of record low interest rates, this is an appropriate investment strategy as well as a necessary one to support the ambitions we have to grow our State.
In closing, it is pleasing to be able to note that the end of our first year in office has coincided with business confidence in South Australia rising to levels not seen in more than 10 years.
This is reflected in rises of 6.3% in new business investment and 9 % in private new capital expenditure – both well above national trends.
I don’t claim any credit for this.
That goes to the businesses out there investing, growing, creating jobs.
Our accountability to South Australians as their government is to ensure our policies encourage and enable our State to grow and become much stronger than it has been for a long time.
That’s what we intend to go on delivering.