Our economy

South Australia desperately needs a radical shot in the arm in its economic policy. 

The major parties are still falling well short of achieving what the state desperately needs, particularly on the other side of the pandemic.

The quickest way to spur economic recovery is to allow the workforce and successful businesses to keep more of the money they earn so they can more fully engage in economic activity.

Governments also need to cut red tape, which adds to the costs of running small business and impacts on jobs.

SA-BEST wants the state to become a “business utopia” and we need to kickstart small business by providing more incentives for this sector-the largest employer in SA- and help it grow beyond pre- pandemic levels.

The pandemic appears to have influenced a rebound to the South Australian economy - however the challenge is to sustain it. 

After two years of business weathering the Covid pandemic, the South Australian economy is now in a transitioning phase following the opening of state borders and a gradual easing of restrictions. 

The state is experiencing a small rise in population - caused in part by returning expatriates from other states and overseas - resulting in an overheated property market and a housing affordability crisis.

South Australia has an annual economic output of around $230 billion, representing 5.7% of the output generated in Australia, with manufacturing the largest contributor, followed by construction, real estate services, public administration and safety, financial and insurance services, mining, health care, primary industries, retail and hospitality.

However, our debt will reach an astronomical $3.3 billion in 2024/25. 

The State Government must learn to balance its budget and live within its means – just like ordinary, hard-working South Australians and their families. 

JobKeeper was a salvation. While the state’s jobless rate continues to fluctuate, economists predict a slight increase in total employment. 

Construction benefited from the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder scheme, but measures are needed to help the education sector recover with lockdowns and travel restrictions impacting heavily on international education, worth almost $2 billion per year pre-pandemic. 

The State Government must work harder to find new markets for our exporters to overcome the economic setbacks including wine exports which plummeted by a third after China’s imposed exorbitant tariffs. 

Economists are optimistic the state’s economy will continue to rebound with growth in business investment. 

The University of Adelaide’s SA Centre for Economic Studies reports that economic recovery in advanced nations is tied to high vaccination rates. Australia’s is well past 90%. 

However, the state cannot rest on these laurels and the momentum must be maintained. 

While some sectors of the economy have managed to survive through the pandemic, others like tourism, hospitality and small businesses suffered from lockdowns and harsh restrictions. 

Housing affordability is emerging as one of the principal concerns with high prices and lack of available housing stock making the great Australian dream look like a mirage. 

SA-BEST will push for measures - including tax reforms and investment incentives. 

Royal Commission into Management of Covid in South Australia 

In the new parliament, one of the first objectives of SA-BEST will be to create a Royal Commission that will look  into all aspects of the management of the pandemic and how decisions made by appointed bureaucrats under Emergency Management laws impacted on all sectors of the community. 

The inquiry compromising of commissioners drawn from a wide section of the community, will be designed as an educative analysis to develop strategic plans for the future. 

The Commission will scrutinise decisions, take evidence from all interested stakeholders and make recommendations to pandemic-proof the State in the event of future epidemics. 

Transport  

  • SA-BEST strongly supports the establishment of a deep sea port at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island as being essential to the state’s economy, and in particular the timber, livestock and tourism industries. A new deep seaport will enable commodities and freight to be transported to and from Kangaroo Island more reliably and cost effectively - and in greater volumes.
  • We also support ferry costs for all people and vehicles being further subsidised in line with other island communities in Australia, the sea link being seen as part of a national highway system. We strongly support additional subsidies for local people and vehicles who often have no choice as there are no alternative routes and there are limited services on Kangaroo Island.
  • SA-BEST will push for a feasibility study for a fast ferry from Glenelg to Kangaroo Island (Kingscote) to become a regular service. There are very few places in the world that lack the ferry connectivity from a mainland capital city to a nearby major tourism destination, like Kangaroo Island does.
  • SA-BEST will strongly advocate for increased road funding to address the woeful state of the roads throughout South Australia, to both repair and build new roads capable of moving traffic efficiently and safely throughout out state.
  • SA-BEST is opposed to the privatisation of public transport services, including rail, bus and tram and will support any return to public ownership pursued by an incoming Government.
  • SA-BEST strongly supports the retention of regional and interstate rail networks and will continue to oppose any closures, such as happened on Eyre Peninsula and almost happened to the Victorian passenger rail line. SA-BEST will fight for funding from the State Government to continue and expand The Overland rail service to Melbourne.
  • SA-BEST will support the further upgrading of Main South Road, to improve travel to and from the growing community of the South.
  • Free public transport 24/7 for seniors.
  • SA-BEST will demand additional funding for regular bus services in our regional areas where currently there is no service on weekends in key regional centres like Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla
  • We will also move for a parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the taxi industry and the impact of rideshare services and the introduction of e-scooters on city and suburban streets to determine whether there requires further regulation and compliance enforcement. 

Privatisation of public assets 

  • SA-BEST is opposed to further privatisation of public assets and will advocate for these to stay in public hands.
  • We will support the construction of a new Adelaide Aquatic Centre provided it remains in public ownership and on the existing footprint.
  • SA-BEST does not support the construction of a new and expensive entertainment stadium on the River Torrens Riverbank, whether it is in public or private ownership. 

Environment including management of our beaches  

  • SA-BEST has had a very active role in ensuring the sustainability of our environment and retention of our marine parks while co-existing with industry and public use.
  • We are opposed to sand pumping units being placed in residential areas and to any further sand removal and pumping that has a detrimental effect to the coastline, seabed or marine life.
  • We will strongly advocate for the rehabilitation of the St Kilda mangroves that were destroyed by salt leaching and will press for a better resourced Environmental Protection Authority with a much-stronger compliance capacity.
  • SA-BEST is strongly opposed to the imposition of recreational fishing licence fees and believes this activity needs to remain free and available to all along our coast, on jetties and offshore.
  • SA-BEST strongly supports increased grants for land management projects undertaken by community groups as well as private land holders. 

Energy  

  • SA-BEST strongly supports the reestablishment of a strong manufacturing industry in South Australia, particularly in areas which Covid 19 demonstrated we are deficient in, or where new green and global opportunities exist for example in the electric car, solar and space industries. 
  • SA-BEST will back new power industry initiatives such as a hydrogen electrolyser facility and power station, along with a hydrogen storage facility, if they are shown to be viable and ease the burden of high power bills. 
  • We have been a strong supporter of renewable energy such that South Australia produces about 60% of its energy needs from renewables, primarily wind power. However, we have concerns current planning laws and controls on wind farms do not go far enough to ensure people, flora and fauna are not negatively impacted by the location and operation of wind farms and have opposed the increasing height and span of windfarm windmills. 
  • SA-BEST wants to see an expansion of solar capacity, both on home and in home systems but also by way of large sun farms and storage facilities, such as we have seen in recent years in South Australia. SA-BEST wants this to increase exponentially, by way of continuing subsidies to business, homeowners and to renters to offset the initial investment required.  

Manufacturing 

  • Sadly, South Australia has seen its manufacturing capacity drop from being a world leader to being a non-starter in making our own appliances, vehicles, engineering components and consumables such as refining oil, fuels, biofuels, wood and paper products. 
  • SA-BEST will strongly support the establishment of electrical vehicle and electrical vehicle component manufacturing in South Australia and will work with government and industry to ensure incentive settings for local manufacturing - and buying local - are right. 
  • To do this, SA-BEST moved legislation to establish a Parliamentary Committee to look into all aspects of the electrical vehicles industry and associated industries to maximise South Australia’s transition to zero emission electric vehicles while building our own manufacturing capacity. 
  • Covid 19 has illustrated South Australia needs to build and maintain its capacity to manufacture medical supplies such as personal protection equipment (PPE), vaccinations, medical test kits, and associated technology.  SA-BEST will support a specialised Industry and Small Business Manufacturing Development fund and a Research and Development fund designed to attract and locate this capacity here in South Australia. 
  • To complement South Australia’s burgeoning defence industry builds for ships and proposed nuclear submarines, SA-BEST will move for the return of technical colleges in our education system and specialist vocational training facilities for apprentices in key trade areas. We will also push the government to review and help supplement remuneration of apprentices to encourage greater participation from males and females. 

Primary Industries 

  • SA-BEST will explore pathways for the state’s wine sector and lobster and seafood industry to recover and find new markets for exports following the imposition of exorbitant import duties and prohibitions by China.
  • SA-BEST will work to ensure timber mill operators have fair access to forest products and are not disadvantaged by the exporting of locally grown logs to overseas markets, creating timber product shortages here and higher construction costs.
  • SA-BEST will push the government to commit $30 million in funding to address flooding concerns along the Gawler River which threatens one of the state’s major food bowls. 

Tourism and hospitality 

The pandemic - coupled with severe lockdowns and harsh restrictions - wreaked havoc on this sector, wiping more than $2.3 billion in value from the state’s visitor economy. 

Pre-pandemic this industry was worth $8.1 billion to our economy and up to 40,000 jobs. 

Only JobKeeper - and incentives for locals to experience their own state - prevented a total collapse.

Despite some easing of restrictions towards the end of 2021, the industry requires much more government assistance and attention to get it off life-support, reinvigorate businesses, and  attract further tourism investment opportunities. 

However recovery will be slow, particularly from overseas tourists who are only now beginning to trickle back. 

The SA Visitor Economy Sector Plan envisages growth of up to $12.8 billion per year by 2030. 

However for this objective to occur, the State Government needs to inject financial support. 

SA-BEST: 

  • supports the Tourism Industry Council of SA’s request for an additional $81 million per year for three years to be invested in various areas of the industry;
  • strongly endorses the return of the Supercars on the city’s historic and acclaimed street racing circuit in December 2022;
  • supports a bid to attract a Formula E (electric powered racing cars) race to the city circuit, which would enhance the state’s green energy reputation and dovetail with any e-industry specific events;
  • supports attracting a major international airline carrier from the United States for direct flights;
  • encourages the State Government to add further value with a specific PGA tour event, once an international-class links golf course is completed on Kangaroo Island;
  • supports upgrading facilities and building a purpose-built passenger terminal at Outer Harbor to attract more cruise ships to our shores;
  • supports exploring opportunities in collaborating with the private sector to establish an exclusive international song festival for the Asia-Pacific region, based on the wildly successful Eurovision competition, and;
  • the provision of funds to establish and build an art gallery dedicated to the state’s film and entertainment/music/arts industries

The quickest way to spur economic recovery is to allow the workforce and successful businesses to keep more of the money they earn so they can more fully engage in economic activity.

Governments also need to cut red tape, which adds to the costs of running small business and impacts on jobs.