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Former investment attraction boss's warning as NSW “comes after SA jobs”


The State Opposition has seized on claims by the NSW Government that it’s in talks to lure South Australian companies to Sydney, arguing Premier Steven Marshall should never have disbanded SA’s investment attraction agency – as its former boss warned the state may need to “compete” to bring in business.

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Investment Attraction SA, chaired by former banking identity, Adelaide Airport chair and recently-departed Crows boss Rob Chapman, was dissolved as one of the incoming Marshall Government’s first orders of business in 2018.

Its chief, Mike Hnyda, briefly remained at the Trade, Tourism and Investment agency before calling time on his career ahead of a major departmental shakeup.

But Labor says a report today in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, suggesting a raft of SA companies were in discussions with the Berejiklian Government to pull stumps, is evidence the agency should have been retained.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the paper her state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was a key driver of the influx, claiming companies from SA and Queensland were in the process of full consideration by NSW Treasury for relocation tax breaks, a program announced less than two months ago.

Around 250 companies had expressed interest so far, she said.

“The feedback from businesses is they want as much certainty as possible during COVID and beyond,” Berejiklian told the paper.

“NSW has demonstrated during the pandemic we can deal with the economic consequences as well as keeping the virus at bay.”

Labor leader Peter Malinauskas told reporters today: “The Berejiklian Government is coming after SA jobs.”

“Reports of NSW Treasury actively contemplating a fight for businesses in SA and Queensland should have every South Australian alarmed,” he said.

Malinauskas argued recent business “shutting up shop here” such as the Lion-owned West end Brewery, suggested “we should be fighting for more jobs to come here ourselves”.

“What we need is to see leadership applied… we’ve got an extraordinary story to sell,” he said.

“But Steven Marshall is cutting the sort of programs that give us the best opportunity to bring businesses to the state, such as Investment Attraction SA.”

Chapman told InDaily today that “in an ideal world Governments shouldn’t get involved [because] the business case of the company involved should stand on its own two feet”.

However, he added, “the reality though is that every country in the world is doing the same, and every state in Australia is offering various incentives”.

“SA has some real competitive advantages – we need to make them more widely known and take advantage of those,” he said.

“But when we are genuinely in competition with other states for the jobs and investment we need to consider what the payback is, and if adequate, compete.”

In a statement to InDaily, Marshall did not criticise the NSW push for SA jobs, instead attacking “Labor’s approach of splashing cash in a pre-election splurge” as “a failure”.

“It would be negligent to follow their advice when it comes to creating jobs and growing our economy,” he said.

“The fundamentals of the South Australian economy are stronger than they’ve been in over a decade – with the Marshall Government’s significant payroll tax relief and land tax reforms creating an environment where South Australia is a magnet for investment.

“As recently as this week we’ve seen global tech giant Amazon Web Services announce their expansion at Lot Fourteen and the likes of Accenture being attracted to SA on the back of our state’s growth in future jobs and industry sectors of space, defence, and hi-tech.

“Our approach is working.”

Treasurer Rob Lucas added that “while Labor was obsessed with ‘picking winners’ and glitzy media stunts over substance, the Marshall Liberal Government has pursued a strong economic reform agenda that significantly lowers the overall cost of doing business in SA”.

“This approach benefits entire industries and tens of thousands of businesses – and households – not just a select chosen few,” he said.

“Supporting these reform initiatives is a radical new approach to providing industry support with much less emphasis being placed on politicians and public servants ‘picking winners’ for the receipt of taxpayer funded grants and loans.”

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