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Briefcase: Business Snippets from around South Australia


In this week’s briefcase, the state government partners with a US shipbuilder, the RAA launches a car buying platform, and Southern Gold picks a new name.

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State govt partners with United States’ largest shipbuilder

A partnership with shipbuilder HII will shore up the state’s shipbuilding capabilities according to Premier Peter Malinauskas who said the company would apply “their extensive experience to the enormous economic opportunity we have here in South Australia”.

A newly formed Australian entity – HII Nuclear Australia – signed a memorandum of understanding with the South Australian Government to accelerate the development of the state’s defence industry, workforce, skills and supply chain.

The MoU outlines the shared intent of both parties, with the government to leverage HII’s industry expertise for major shipbuilding projects on the state’s horizon.

The deal has been described as “invaluable” as SA embarks on the construction of nuclear-powered submarines at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide.

“HII has a strong track record of delivering long-term workforce development initiatives in the US, investing early to engage primary and high-school-aged children in STEM education,” Malinauskas said.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the HII on this endeavour – applying their extensive experience to the enormous economic opportunity we have here in South Australia.”

HII president of nuclear and environmental services Michael Lempke said the partnership was “an honour and a significant strategic advantage in HII’s effort to support workforce development aligned with the goals of AUKUS”.

“As the largest employer in many of the communities in which HII operates, we believe that businesses share in the responsibility of developing a skilled workforce,” Lempke said.

“In the United States, HII invests $10 million a year in local communities to build the skilled and motivated workforce required to ensure nuclear programs protect the community and environment surrounding the nuclear site.”

– David Simmons

Magnetite Mines pens agreement with CIMIC subsidiary for SA iron ore project

Magnetite Mines and CIMIC subsidiary Pacific Partnerships have penned a non-binding memorandum of understanding to support the development of the Razorback Iron Ore project in South Australia’s northeast.

The agreement also “contemplates a consortium-based approach” to the development of green iron hubs in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

“We are thrilled to explore a partnering relationship with Pacific Partnerships,” Magnetite Mines CEO Tim Dobson said.

“Our Razorback Iron Ore Project will be a very large, long-term venture and needs a corresponding partnering approach to support development and financing.

“This collaboration reflects our commitment to deliver a world-class project and we look forward to working closely with the Pacific Partnerships and unlock the full potential of Razorback for the benefit of all shareholders.”

David Simmons

Photo: Supplied

Gibson hits the UK with distributor partnership

Barossa Valley winery Gibson will soon have its most recognised drop on UK shelves after signing a partnership with specialist wine retailer Majestic Wine.

The Dirtman Barossa Shiraz will be added to Majestic’s general range as part of the deal and will be sold in more than 200 stores across England, Wales and Scotland.

Majestic also plans on introducing two more Gibson releases through its Wine Club subscriptions.

Gibson said the deal represented “the most significant export in Gibson’s recent history”, with the UK set to become the wine business’ largest international presence since it was founded in 1996 by Rob and Anne Gibson.

“We are delighted to welcome Gibson into the Majestic range through this exclusive new partnership,” Majestic Wine chief operating officer Robert Cooke said.

“Rob and his family produce some fantastic wines and we know our customers will love them as much as we do.”

For Gibson, the news follows recent international deals made to get bottles on shelves in Denmark and Japan in recent months.

Gibson will sit alongside fellow Australian wine brands Two Hands, Vasse Felix, Shaw+Smith, Jim Barry, Torbeck and Penfolds in the Majestic portfolio.

David Simmons

Tech industry peak body declares national skills crisis

The peak body for the tech sector ACS has called for a “holistic overhaul of the nation’s skills, training and immigration programs” to counter what it described as a skills crisis in Australia.

ACS believes 95 per cent of the Australian workforce needs reskilling in order to shore up against the emergence of artificial intelligence which will “profoundly reshape” the roles of workers.

“By 2030, we will need 1.3 million additional skills to effectively utilise the technologies reshaping the Australian workforce,” ACS chief executive Chris Vein said on the release of ACS’ latest Digital Pulse report.

“This year’s Digital Pulse is not merely a call to action; it’s a robust, practical roadmap to build the nationwide tech skills we need. We have developed the most comprehensive projections around tech skills demand through to 2030 to date based on currently available information.

“This year’s report calls for a coalition across industry, education and government to start shaping how our society will respond to the skills challenge this exciting era presents.”

The report found a lack of the right digital skills was costing Australian businesses $3.1 billion each year, which could top $16 billion by 2030.

It also found that by the end of the decade half of Australian businesses would be using AI, data analytics and robotics.

“The stakes are high for Australia,” Vein said.

“If the nation can get this right, we could be leading the world and guaranteeing our prosperity into the future. If we don’t seize the opportunity, we could well be left behind by the middle of the century.”

– David Simmons

Gen Z South Australians feeling the pinch

New research from ASIC Moneysmart has uncovered a generational and geographical divide in terms of financial stress and security.

The report found Gen Zs in SA were feeling more financially stressed than other generations because of the rising cost of living, with 80 per cent admitting they feel stressed compared to 65 per cent of non-Gen Zs.

Young regional South Australians are also more likely than their metro counterparts to say they are planning on using a buy-now pay-later (BNPL) service like Afterpay (37 per cent for Gen Z compared to 23 per cent for all other cohorts) or will move back in with family (24 per cent compared to 12 per cent) because of cost-of-living pressures.

Further, the report found Gen Z South Australians living in the state’s regions were three times as likely to say they had no personal savings and twice as likely to say they currently use BNPL products.

ASIC CEO Warren Day said Gen Zs were “driven to learn more and improve their finances but there’s a clear need to engage and help them feel more confident about money”.

“We want to show them that it doesn’t take a lot of time to make a start with small steps that will make big differences long term,” Day said.

“Learning how to plan and save, and deal with their expenses, sets up young Aussies for their future.”

– David Simmons

Business confidence defies projections

The latest report released by Business SA last week has indicated a slight rebound in business confidence for the September quarter after a significant decline in June.

The William Buck Survey of Business Expectations found that business confidence levels rose to 83.9 points, bouncing back from 77.3 points just three months earlier. Business SA had previously projected a further decline to 68.4 points in the September quarter.

Chief Executive of Business SA Andrew Kay suggested that interest rate stability since the last survey had contributed to the improved result.

“These are quite globally turbulent times. A brief period of certainty around local interest rates was welcomed by the business community,” said Kay.

The report also showed that general business conditions in South Australia have increased in September, with indices reflecting a 9.1-point increase from 86.6 in June.

“This result surpasses everyone’s expectations,” said Kay.

“Businesses anticipated a rise of 4.9 points last quarter, so this is promising news.”

The report also highlighted concerns of business owners such as cost, profitability, the need for skilled labour and issues around wellbeing and the mental health of staff.

Charlie Gilchrist

RAA goes live with new car buying platform

The RAA has launched a new online car-buying platform for South Australian motorists which CEO Nick Reade said would give “more peace of mind to anyone buying a new car”.

The RAA New Car Buyer website gives visibility to buyers of the current prices and stock levels of their chosen vehicle from more than 2800 vetted dealers.

“Purchasing a new car brings with it a raft of pain points,” Reade said.

“South Australians have told us that the car buying process can be time-consuming and stressful because it’s hard to know who to trust.

“By having better visibility of the car dealers’ best offers, users will be able to make a more informed choice about who to buy from, without the stress of wondering if they got a good deal or not.”

Users select which car make and model they desire, the preferred paint job and accessories, as well as which Australian states or territories they’re looking to buy in. The RAA site then puts a request in to car dealers who respond with a quote.

Reade hoped the platform would mean car dealerships would compete against each other for the sale, and hopefully drive down prices for buyers.

“The buying process is that of a reverse blind auction, where the dealers are encouraged to give their best price in order to get the sale,” Reade said.

“The platform also gives South Aussies an open and transparent picture of where that vehicle is currently in stock, which is a huge benefit at a time when availability is a challenge for many popular models.”

RAA New Car Buyer is available to all South Australians by visiting

– David Simmons

Southern Gold picks new name

Mining company Southern Gold has changed its name to better represent its focus on mineral exploration and battery technology.

The company is called Iondrive as of 15 November, and its ASX ticker has changed from SAU to ION.

“As our business strategy advances, with the continuing focus on exploration for minerals critical to the global clean energy transition and the recent expansion into commercialisation of battery technologies, it was becoming imperative to adopt a new brand identity that better reflects this evolving strategy,” Iondrive managing director Robert Smillie said.

“Iondrive symbolises our dedication to sourcing and developing the materials that power a sustainable future.”

– David Simmons

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