About two weeks ago I managed to get a snapshot of the current political thinking on the WA Economy and what we face in the coming years. At a CEDA event looking at the State’s Fiscal Future our Treasurer (and Attorney General) – Christian Porter – presented on the challenges and strengths of our economy…
Christian is a good presenter and has a strong economic background (otherwise he would not have the job!) – however I was left with the impression that there was an overt focus on the resources industry as the only focus to our economic wellbeing for the foreseeable future…
He compared the cities of Houston and Detroit in their growth (and demise – for Detroit) about the focus around their core industry… I believe trying to point out that Perth can become a Resources hub based on the current resources industry boom here. From my perspective I’m somewhat concerned that there is this assumption that Perth will just become a hub for the industry where there seems to be an issue in the amount of ‘foreign content’ in all of the projects that are under development (or completed) here in WA. We’re seeing many instances of all (or most) of the high end knowledge work on projects being done outside of the state and the country… hopefully that does not mean that we are heading down the path of Detroit’s demise!
Rather than focusing on the current source of the majority of the state’s revenue generation (I could have said wealth – however I am not sure if what today is a key resource – i.e. minerals – will be tomorrow’s “abundant valuable resource“) I’d like to see us planning for a future city and economy that is more aligned the economy of Singapore. We need to be developing a more diversified economy such as leveraging off the technical skills and knowledge in the resources industry here in WA to be used more widely.
I’ve previously spoken about the need for ITC to be recognised as an industry or at least an enabler of business and government. There is the need to change Perth and WA’s future from that of a glorified mine / oil & gas well to that of a more diversified and 21st century city and state. This cannot be done without the acceptance and adoption of ITC to enable, develop, and expand our economy. From education, to innovative developments and applications as well as being the driver of efficiencies for the resources sector that underwrites this state.
All of the above may be true but we are still able to ride on the “mine’s back” here in WA – but there is going to be a change sometime in the future where our resources will not be in demand as much and when that tide goes out the question is what else will we have to show for it?
I can guarantee that the Education sector would support the increase in a focus on the Knowledge Economy – but how do we market this need for economic diversity to the decision makers when they see this long term stream of revenue coming from the resources sector… that is the real challenge.