30 Reasons To Seize This Opportunity

by Des Menz posted in What’s Up With The Regions


September 2015

The South Australian economy has taken a real belting of late. The economy is in transition from latent manufacturing and agricultural production to service-based industries, a fact that is supported by the contribution of 76% to State Gross Product of services (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics).

I have written about this matter in A Proposition For Change at my website Sustainable Space. 

A new direction is needed for rural South Australia, and having not succeeded in 2014 to convince the government about this, I thought it was time for another go.

So I thought I would try a different approach, thinking that our state political leaders might be interested in an enticing menu. 

The following letter was sent to the Premier, Opposition Leader, and my local MP Geoff Brock.


 Premier Jay Weatherill                                                                                                                                                                                                                              13 August 2015

GPO Box 2343

Adelaide  SA  5001


Dear Premier

“SA records almost 2,000 job losses from regional areas in a month, ABS figures show”

So said the headline in an ABC online news bulletin on 16 July.

I am dismayed that all sides of politics in South Australia have not seen the obvious when it comes to creating long-term employment for regional SA. The Charter for Stronger Regional Policy, although well-intended, has missed a major target.

Therefore I am writing to you about the biggest opportunity available right now for you and your government to grasp. 


30 Reasons To Seize This Opportunity

  1. Creates at least 500 new full-time jobs in an industry sector and at a scale never tried before
  2. Generates up to 1,250 additional jobs
  3. Has the ability to create hundreds more jobs, industries, and products … all within a short time-frame
  4. Is not “pie-in-the-sky”, as a part of it has been examined by CSIRO which has postulated that there is a potential gain of $1 billion annually (an uplift of more than 20% of current agricultural output) for the state’s regional communities
  5. Is enduring, totally sustainable, has an endless time-frame, and can be scaled up to produce far greater impact and employment 
  6. With an initial time frame of 20 years, it can therefore be the basis of a “20-year Rural Plan” along the same lines as the “30-year Plan for Greater Adelaide”
  7. Will put South Australia at the forefront in Australia of a sector never undertaken before in Australia
  8. Will result in South Australia adding significantly to its international reputation
  9. Offers a financial dividend to the state government
  10. Will become self-supporting and have very significant social, environmental, and economic benefits
  11. Is a fully integrated system in which multiple products will be produced
  12. Supports rural communities, especially those with declining populations
  13. Will foster development of rural towns
  14. Uses a forgotten, neglected, and idle resource
  15. Has instant commencement and is able to start at the local level and expand outwards
  16. Uses established organisations and networks, and local/regional skills for its implementation and management
  17. Fulfils state government strategies and objectives
  18. Offers rural local Councils an opportunity that is “too good to refuse”, and dispels what they have resisted, or have not wanted to realise, for many years
  19. Provides a pathway for individual metropolitan Councils to partner with rural Councils for mutual benefit and economic gain
  20. Supports intrastate import replacement of $20 million annually, money that should go into supporting South Australian regional industries and thereby creating 400-500 more jobs in South Australia
  21. Involves education at high school and TAFE levels, research, training, monitoring, value-adding, marketing, and trading - all with a focus at the regional scale
  22. Will provide openings for university research involvement, and will involve social, environmental, and sustainable communities research
  23. Offers significant scope to attract federal government partnership funding
  24. Provides significant benefits for farmers, with the ability to hedge against commodity price fluctuations, add to farm diversity, and see to local and regional markets
  25. Addresses some of the greatest challenges confronting the state in the eye of climate change and declining rainfall in decades to come
  26. Will attract a new type of tourist, offer a new experience, and connect with existing and neglected heritage
  27. Provides a solution to the decline of the natural resources base
  28. Is good for the state, Australia, and the world
  29. Offers scope for employment of casual and vacationing job-seekers, displaced peoples, and migrants
  30. Has the capacity for export of the methodology of the integrated system

South Australia’s destiny is not all about manufacturing, submarines, mining, and Adelaide. Premier, there is no better time than now to seize this opportunity. Are you interested? 

It could become the biggest “good news” story for a long time to come. Is your government willing to re-frame the regions? I request that you give this your personal attention, because it is vitally important. I suspect that no “roadshow” or think-tank has considered this opportunity.

I invite you to contact me at any time to discuss the details of these 30 compelling reasons.

I look forward to your earliest reply.

Sincerely

Des Menz


Notice something different? 

I did not say what the “opportunity” was,  and that was intentional because I wanted to see if my letter would actually be read.

Well, I can say that the contents did not even raise a query. 

Here are the responses.

The first is from the Premier’s Correspondence Unit.

It is very difficult to get an idea past the “Premier’s Correspondence Unit”. What I was proposing would change the economy of rural South Australia.

Signed by an anonymous staffer, with an illegible signature that looks like a bit of string, it is disappointing that a person with an inquisitive mind could not be found to cast a curious eye over “30 Reasons”.

This is another example of not listening to the people, and another example of the city-rural divide. 


Never mind that there is a government website where we can all have our say. As commendable as it is, one wonders if anything is really taken seriously. I’ll believe it when a Minister comes out and says “hey, what a great idea, let’s take that on”.












The second letter is signed by the Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, but I suspect that it was authored by a staffer.


    













































The response is just waffle. It does not understand the change that is needed in the rural sector. It does not understand about connecting the outcomes, adversity, and risks that are described in numerous government reports such as ;

  • Climate Change Adaptation Framework
  • No Species Loss
  • State of Environment 2013

… and a host of other reports such as the social impacts of dryness, regional sustainability, and rural support.


Minister Gago mentions about “state priorities” at the end of the letter. What are these priorities? The SA government has created a website called “Priorities” in which SEVEN STRATEGIC PRIORITIES are listed.

Not one of these priorities relates to rural and regional sustainability.

This is why it has become so difficult to hear the timid rural voice amongst the din of city chatter.


The letter I sent to the Premier was also posted to the Opposition Leader Stephen Marshall on the same day, August 14, 2015.
No reply was received, so what does that say about the Opposition’s interest in the regions?


UPDATE

Geoff Brock, the Minister for Regional Development, responded by meeting with me in December 2015. Interested as he was, the Minister is an Independent MP with limited influence about strategic change.


© Des Menz 2014-16
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