OPINION: It’s time now, more than ever, that we have the courage of our own convictions

With its retail price hitting double figures, the humble iceberg lettuce is getting some bad publicity.

It’s become a lightning rod, along with energy prices, for the hip-pocket shocks that are surging through our global economy.

Adelaide is known globally for its affordable and enviable lifestyle but that could be hard to reconcile for families struggling to balance budgets and facing increasing mortgage costs.

It is in these tough times that we must double down on our efforts to champion the attributes and deliver the benefits that make South Australia one of the greatest places to live and work.

In short – we need to start believing our own publicity and spruiking the economic and lifestyle opportunities that shape a positive future for the state.

This isn’t about knocking our interstate counterparts: Border skirmishes benefit nobody.

Rather we must emphasise and celebrate our attributes and assets, our business and cultural credentials, to build a vision and ecosystem for investment, education and jobs in our great city and state.

There is an important role here for Adelaide’s diaspora. For all the negatives of the pandemic, it fuelled a reverse brain drain with thousands of highly motivated, skilled and intelligent expats returning to our shores.

These well-connected individuals, with their global perspective, hold the innovative ideas that will shape our future. Their experience overseas and interstate provides critical connection for investment and trade purposes.

They are important to the perception of our state brand. I think of them as our business diplomats.

We must harness and use their strengths to help us attract increased investment and capital to Adelaide.

Equally important is the soft diplomacy that our international students can harness. It’s great to see so many of these people returning to Adelaide in a post-pandemic environment and we would love to see SA attract an ever-increasing number of international students.

These students come from more than 120 countries, injecting billions into our economy, but their contribution is far more than just financial.

They are the messengers who can spread the word globally about the value of an education in Adelaide. That is why we must continue to provide a fulfilling and rich experience during their study.

Next month state and federal energy ministers will meet to road map an accelerated transition to renewable energy, including investment in hydrogen, to safeguard against future energy crises.

Adelaide is a leader in this space, and we must capitalise on this tremendous opportunity to sell our green credentials and leadership in this area.

Less than two decades ago, SA generated all its electricity from fossil fuels. In 2021, our state generated more than 60 per cent of daily energy needs through renewables. This compared to just 1 per cent 15 years earlier. In November, SA made history when the state’s entire energy needs for 93 hours were met through renewables.

Just one example of state “firsts” is the pioneering project like the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group’s Hydrogen Park at Tonsley.
There Australia’s largest electrolyser uses renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, with 5 per cent of renewable hydrogen blended into the residential gas supply of 700 homes.
Our world-class universities are also leading the research and development of technology and solutions to help decarbonise our energy supply and meet a net-zero emissions energy future.
Our renewable industry is one piece in a forward-looking economic future built on industries such as defence, cyber, hi-tech manufacturing, and space.
We are home to the Australian Space Agency at Lot Fourteen, a visionary precinct that has attracted the attention and investment of global companies. This hub is accelerating innovation, entrepreneurship, education, research, and culture and is destined to have global impact.
Lot Fourteen, the Tonsley Innovation District, Technology Park and Adelaide BioMed City are all great examples of how business, industry, education, and government can collaborate to re-engineer an economy.
Our reputation as a progressive leader in culture and the arts will be strengthened with the Tarrkarri – Centre for First Nations Cultures. This stunning building will provide the world with an immersive understanding of the rich history and incredible story of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
It is a project of which we must be immensely proud and once completed it will be one of the state’s greatest institutions.

We must not underestimate the value of culture, sports, creative industries and the arts in attracting and retaining capital and talent in our city.

We punch well above our weight and are a leader in the industries of tomorrow, it’s time now, more than ever, that we have the courage of our own convictions and promote Adelaide and all its offerings interstate and globally.

After watching the Socceroos qualify for a fifth straight FIFA World Cup on Tuesday morning, there would be no better way to promote Adelaide and SA than to host their last home match in September against New Zealand as they prepare for the World Cup in November.

This article was originally published in The Advertiser on 14 June 2022.

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