19 October 2017, Written by David Simmons


AS ADELAIDE shuffles through a period of intense transition, many are left wondering: what's next?

This week marks a massive milestone for the South Australian capital; the closure of the last remaining automotive manufacturer in the state. As the General Motors Holden plant shuts its doors in Elizabeth, many will be left without work, and the South Australia will lose a big cog in its economy.

Coinciding with the closure of the Holden plant was the release of a report compiled by demographer Bernard Salt in collaboration with the NBN. Detailed in the report are a number of silver linings, but also a number of reasons for South Australians to smile. Salt believes that South Australia and Adelaide will survive the transition from manufacturing hub to 21st century start-up central.

Business News Australia spoke to Salt following the release of the South Australian Lifestylepreneur Report to get his two cents on everything from the future of Adelaide to the importance of connectivity.

What would you say is the biggest challenge to Adelaide becoming a competitive 21st century city?

Adelaide has all the attributes that you need. It's affordable, its beautifully planned, the city has a good climate, it's very leafy, it has its hipster zones, it's got a fantastic airport finally. The challenges for Adelaide are partly around self-belief and confidence. Here is a city that in the 1990s lost its state bank and I think its confidence faltered at that time. The reality is that Adelaide has a terrific quality of life, terrific skills, terrific institutions. It's a question of self-belief and confidence in the future. It's a mind game almost.

If the 20th century in Adelaide was defined by the manufacturing industry, what will the 21st century Adelaide be centred around? Or do you think there's merit in becoming a diverse hub of several industries?

Well I certainly do think the 20th century Adelaide, like many cities in Australia, was a manufacturing city, but it's time to change. And the change I think is towards adding value in agribusiness and the caring industry that is hospitals and age care. I also think there is scope in probably a range of micro-industries or smaller industries that might be in defence, submarines or whatever it is that is being built at a point in time.

Who should bear the responsiblity of building Adelaide back up? The public or private sector?

There is a great temptation all over Australia to say 'there's a problem at the moment, what's the government going to do about it?'. My view is: what is every Adelaideian going to do about it, what's every South Australian going to do about it, what's every Australian going to do about it? This is not saying that State and Federal and local governments don't have a role to play, but I also think that it comes down to every South Australian. Every South Australian might not be able to start a business like Mark Zuckerberg, but what you can do is actually maintain a positive mindset with regard to south Australian and Adelaide business. 1.5 million micro decisions can actually shift a culture and create a positive mind set.

A lot of the report was about connectivity, so how important will connectivity be for Adelaide's transformation?

If you look at the sorts of businesses that are emerging and the growth areas in services, knowledge industries, skills industries, a lot of those businesses are dependent upon the access to the internet and so if that speeds up or make internet access easier that certainly is going to help. Back in the 1950s and the 1960s Adelaide's prosperity depended on whether or not you could get to the Holden manufacturing plant in Elizabeth. Now you don't need to be within access of an assembly line, you can be at home in Modbury or down at Norlunga or in Gawler or down at Victor Harbour and you can go to work via the internet. In many respects the internet or fast broadband access is an enabler of entrepreneurship and that is the transformation that I think Australia and South Australia and Adelaide is going through at the moment.

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Business News Australia

Author: David Simmons





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