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Treasurer's 'headwinds' warning for SA economy


Sustained high inflation, strained household budgets and fewer building approvals all point to a weaker, more challenging year ahead, says SA Treasurer Stephen Mullighan.

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Mullighan warned business leaders about the softer outlook for the state at the South Australian Business Index lunch on Friday, noting the economy was currently “performing incredibly strongly”.

“We are getting consistent warnings – particularly nationally from the Reserve Bank, from the Commonwealth Government, from economic commentators – that we can expect growing headwinds over the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.

This was due to a variety of factors but particularly sustained high rates of inflation, softer rates of building approvals, and high levels of job vacancies.

“Our expectations for the state’s economy going forward is that we will have a softer year of economic growth this financial year and next financial year,” the Treasurer said.

While “part of that is somewhat beyond our control” – particularly climate conditions with a return to El Niño – the state government was “expecting a return to more normal crop production and output and that will soften our overall economic statistics”.

“Similarly, we have had remarkable strength in employment growth over the last two years in particular and we don’t expect that rate of employment growth will continue,” Mullighan said.

“We are exhausting the capacity for our jobs market to continue growing at that pace.”

His statements came ahead of the unveiling of the Top 100 companies in South Australia: the 2023 South Australian Business Index.

That list was led by the perennial number one – oil and gas giant Santos – but saw a shakeup in the top ten with Argo Investments sliding into the silver medal position following the acquisition of OZ Minerals earlier this year.

Peregrine came in at third place, leapfrogging Beach Energy. Thomas Foods rounded out the top five.

Resources was the most represented on the Index by number of companies, which was celebrated by the South Australian Chamber of Mines & Energy CEO Rebecca Knol.

“The resources sector makes up 46 percent of the 2023 SA Business Index’s total value, showing that SA is not just a Festival State, but a Resources State,” Knol said.

“SACOME member companies generate $1 in every $12 and support 1 in every 14 jobs in South Australia.

“Whether you’re a student considering your future career or an experienced tradesperson or professional, there are jobs waiting for you in resources. The resources sector is leading the energy transition by investing in climate change solutions while producing the raw commodities needed for the Electrification Age.”

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