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“A bad, short-sighted decision”: Brand SA boss blasts funding cut

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The executive chair of Brand South Australia has lashed out at the Marshall Government’s decision to axe the not-for-profit organisation’s public funding, calling it a “sad day for the state”.

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Brand SA executive chairman Peter Joy took to Facebook yesterday after Premier Steven Marshall confirmed the government would cut the group’s $1.6 million annual public funding.

“A great team of smart, young and passionate people doing nothing more than helping local businesses, sharing positive stories and translating government policies into private business opportunities stopped in their tracks,” Joy wrote.

“A bad, short-sighted decision.”

Brand SA is the successor to Advantage SA and, before that, SA Great; all not-for-profit organisations aimed at promoting the state and its economy.

Brand SA focused on promoting the state brand, as developed by the former Weatherill Labor Government, spearheading the uptake of South Australia’s ‘open door’ logo and the ‘I Choose SA’ shop-local campaign.

Brand SA promoted the South Australia logo developed during the Weatherill Government.

SA Minister for Trade David Ridgway said the decision to end the organisation’s funding reflected a push to concentrate South Australia’s marketing and promotion efforts on interstate and overseas markets.

“Following the Joyce Review, we have decided to focus our state promotion efforts on interstate and international markets – rather than within the state itself – which we believe will have significant flow-on benefits to drive economic and jobs growth,” he said in a statement.

“I thank Brand SA for its work over recent years and trust that individuals and businesses associated with the organisation will continue to be strong advocates for this wonderful state.”

InDaily understands the taxpayer funding made up roughly half of Brand SA’s annual budget, with the balance accounted for by sponsorships and memberships.

The decision follows a review of the government’s trade strategy which, as InDaily revealed in October last year, was being led by former New Zealand finance minister Steven Joyce.

The review argued that the Department of Trade, Tourism and Investment should take over responsibility for Brand SA from the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

But it does not recommend cutting Brand SA’s funding.

“Brand SA currently reports to DPC on the use of this funding, and directs most of its marketing effort internally within the state,” the report reads.

“A number of stakeholders made the point that this was the wrong approach, and to maximise the impact of the Brand SA work the marketing should be directed internationally.”

A Change.org petition, urging the government to reverse the funding cut, has received more than 760 online signatures.

Brand SA will cease operations on 30 June and its 16 staff will lose their jobs but receive full entitlements, the organisation said in a statement yesterday.

“We are now working through the impact of the Government’s decision on these programs.”

Business SA board chair Nikki Govan – a former chief executive of SA Great – told InDaily the chamber of commerce would consider whether it could take carriage of some of Brand SA’s programs.

“There may be … those programs that continue to be run by other organisations,” she said.

“If we were to be approached to run those programs we’d look at it and whether (that) makes sense for us.”

Govan said Brand SA was a significantly different organisation to its predecessors.

She said SA Great was set up by a group of local media organisations keen to promote the state during an economic downturn.

She said she had never seen anything like it, adding: “It was uniquely South Australian.”

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