While it’s clear this week’s State-wide blackout was due to infrastructure damage caused by a massive storm, the damage to our brand as an investment destination is enormous.
Interstate headlines ranged from SA entering the dark ages to being a state in the dark.
At a time when Adelaide city centre is undergoing exciting changes with major investments along our Riverbank ranging from the Festival Plaza redevelopment to the expansion at the Adelaide Convention Centre, one dark afternoon is unravelling a myriad of activities carefully crafted to reposition South Australia.
Regardless of whether we could have done more to prevent a State-wide blackout, electricity has emerged as a major issue for our State.
Already, this year we’ve seen interstate headlines about the spiralling price of electricity. We’ve seen businesses bemoan the fact that any subsidies or support they’ve received to set up shop locally are being eroded by price increases and we’ve seen local businesses lose business and productivity.
South Australia’s single biggest issue is that as a state we lack the critical mass to enable a thriving economy.
Population growth is vital and attracting new business to achieve this must be one of our key priorities. Yet anyone looking at investing in South Australia will expect power that is reliable and reasonably priced. The headlines indicate failure on both counts.
Now more than ever, our community needs answers. We need assurances and we need solutions.
We need to be confident that problems are being properly investigated and acted on. We need a system where storm damage in one area does not have the ability to wipe out electricity to our entire state, where questions about the potential for renewables to destabilise the system are rigorously investigated and most of all, we need an electricity supply that is secure and cost effective.
We need a bipartisan approach across Federal and State levels to solve this issue and, at least for the moment, we need to lay the blame to one side.
Only when this happens and confidence has been restored can we once again continue to shine a light on South Australia as a desirable place for business investment.