Adelaide think-tank offers inspiration for city growth


The group describes itself as a non-partisan think-tank and is self-funded by its members, who are something of a who’s-who of Adelaide.

Ian Smith is one of the group’s founders; a corporate lobbyist with strong Liberal Party ties, but his motivation is more personal than political.

“I’ve got two young kids, a nine-year-old and a six-year-old and … if you don’t plan now for a sort of an Adelaide in which they can work, it won’t happen,” he said.

Mr Smith is pleased the committee has a diverse mix of members.

Its chairman is Colin Goodall, a former international executive for BP who was Irish-born and British-raised but came to Adelaide allegedly to retire.

Somehow those retirement plans changed and he is pleased to be part of the committee because he can give an outsider’s viewpoint.

“I’ve lived in a number of second-tier cities and we made a recent decision … to go somewhere rather than the company sending me somewhere and we chose to come here, so we thought about it very deeply, coming here and we love it,” he said of Adelaide.

Mr Goodall says the city and the state have much to offer.

“The air’s clean, the food’s good, the wine’s not bad either,” he said.

Adelaide ‘on cusp of something really amazing’

Being a small business owner, I’m seeing more and more small businesses opening up and giving it a go and I think that sort of momentum is incredible. – Josh Fanning

Josh Fanning also is on the committee and full of enthusiasm, calling himself the ‘token young guy’.

“I think Adelaide’s on the cusp of something really amazing,” he said.

Mr Fanning is a publishing entrepreneur who has made a conscious decision to stay and build a business in Adelaide.

“We’ve gone through such tremendous change in the last 18 months or at least that’s the feeling that I get with my peers, with business,” he said.

“Being a small business owner, I’m seeing more and more small businesses opening up and giving it a go and I think that sort of momentum is incredible.

“When I started trying to promote the act of staying, of setting up something and trying to keep young creative people here in 2007, it was really difficult and now it’s sort of like this momentum is carrying us through.”

Mary Patetsos was quick to put her hand up to be involved in the committee and has a background in social housing, health and aged care.

She might be from the opposite end of the political spectrum from Ian Smith, but her motivations are similar.

“I didn’t want to look back in five years’ time when my daughter hit her late teens, early 20s and didn’t have options in terms of employment,” she said.

“I don’t want opportunities to have a postcode. I actually would like to think the northern suburbs, in particular now with Holden, and the south are going to be places where people want to live and where, when they live there, they can live, work and play the same that they do in Burnside and Unley.”

Agenda for Growth

The committee has released its first report, Agenda for Growth, which outlines how development of South Australia’s human and economic capital has stalled.

The committee is keen to see more effort from all sectors, not just government.

It suggests making visas easier to get for skilled and investor migrants, radically reshaping local government and encouraging investment in infrastructure, including through use of toll roads.

One of the aims is to attract big corporations to set up headquarters in Adelaide.

Using his corporate contacts, Mr Goodall is confident headway is being made.

“Santos have been brilliant supporting and helping us,” he said.

“We see a huge need to encourage other large corporates to come in so that helps to stimulate support for the arts, support for charity, support for not-for-profits, all of those other things.”

“We can do it. I know we can do it.”


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