Adelaide’s business community copped it from both sides yesterday.
Still licking its wounds after backing the election bid of the state Liberals, the notion that a re-elected Labor Government would seek to be more cooperative with business went out the window.
In a studio interview with Channel Nine newsreader Brenton Ragless on the eve of his trip to China this week, Premier Jay Weatherill gave business a slap.
“One thing that everyone must now accept is that the challenges in front of us are enormous,” he said.
“Business is gonna have to change. It’s going to have to lift its gaze to look outwards.
“We’re now next to the fastest growing place in the planet and that’s just one, that’s China; there’s India and South-East Asia as well.”
Earlier in the day, prominent Adelaide developer and business leader Theo Maras also had a challenge to put to the sector.
There were too many voices and not enough unity, Maras told an Urban Development Institute of Australia lunch at the Intercontinental.
“I strongly encourage unification of industry groups,” he repeatedly told the group.
“We need to speak up and become leaders in building and infrastructure, by unifying industry and going to government.”
He warned the gathering that while there was a need for government to do more to assists economic growth in SA, the gap between it and business had to be breached.
“Put away prejudice between industry and government,” he said.
“We have to grow up and talk to ministers and government, it’s a cop out to say we can’t talk because of ICAC,” he told one questioner who was concerned about access to ministers and how it might be perceived.
Maras is convinced that South Australia has good prospects – the business community, however, can’t sit and wait for others to make it happen.
“International investors are looking to the eastern seaboard because we don’t approach them,” he argued.
“We have the money, the capital, we need to take risks and invest in this state.
“Overseas investors are lining up – we need to give them the product, price and locations.
“The opportunity and climate is there, the only thing stopping us is ourselves … we have to lead the way.”
Back in the Channel Nine studios, Premier Weatherill was promising bold ideas and changes to government performance while claiming the right to lead in whatever way he thinks fit.
“It will have to be bolder,” he told Ragless.
“And it will have to involve some element of controversy because you can’t make change without causing upset to established interests.”
Ragless asked what he meant by “bold ideas”?
“I think we need to do a lot … about renovating our democracy.
“I think people have lost a bit of faith in politics and politicians.
“The second thing is renovating government itself, what it does.
“We need to get much more out of, essentially, our government. It’s going to have to be a much more activist government.
“The opposition says I don’t have a mandate; the flipside of that is I’m at large to promote what I think is the way forward. And I think people want me to lead.”
Just what all that means remains to be seen.
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