A THRIVING nuclear industry, a once-in-a-century influx of skilled migrants and a mums-and-dads investment fund are among recommendations from some of South Australia's top business leaders to boost economic growth and create jobs.
As The Advertiser launches a We're for Jobs in SA campaign that aims to build business and jobseeker confidence and drive employment growth in SA, seven leading business people have spoken candidly about the changes they believe are needed to make the state more competitive.
These involve a raft of bold policy ideas to put the state back on track, including welcoming an influx of skilled migrants from crisis-hit Eurozone countries to boost our population, and encouraging mums and dads to invest in a fund that would provide grants to interstate and overseas businesses in return for setting up in SA.
Some also call for the development of a domestic nuclear power sector that Property Council of SA executive director Nathan Paine predicts could turn us into the "Dubai of Asia".
What changes do you believe would make SA more competitive?
He said: "You'd almost be able to give every South Australian ... when they turn 18, a cheque for $50, 000 and a house."
The other suggestions include public-private partnerships to fund vital infrastructure, moves to reduce the cost of doing business, and setting government purchasing quotas that would direct work to SA-based companies.
The diverse group takes in Restaurant and Catering SA chief executive Sally Neville, Defence Teaming Centre chief executive Chris Burns, Rundle Mall Management Authority chairman Theo Maras and Housing Industry Association SA/NT regional director Robert Harding.
Also represented were Family Business Australia SA chairman Kent Aughey, Mr Paine and Business SA senior policy adviser Andrew McKenna.
In a suggestion sure to ignite controversy, Mr Burns said SA should develop a nuclear sector. He said: "What we've got unique resources for in this state are for nuclear energy. We have the resources in the ground; we should be digging it up and processing it. Never sell it, only lease it and bring it back here to bury it. I think that's the industry for the state."
SA has 40 per cent of the world's known uranium reserves. Mr Maras said if the government championed a nuclear industry, business would soon come on board.
The group sat down with The Advertiser this week ahead of the launch of the We're for Jobs in SA campaign, which will run over the next eight weeks and plans to lead the debate on jobs growth and support local businesses and job seekers.
Flagging a forthcoming Property Council policy announcement, Mr Paine called for a huge "jobs fund" in the form of a public-private venture capital fund open to mums and dads, private investors and the State Government that would give money to companies to develop business ideas.
They would return the money once they achieved a certain level of revenue.
"It's a model that's worked in Singapore ... we'd actually create a fund that would say to a business in NSW `you need $10 million in investment to get that next step ... but you can only get that if you move to SA', " he said.
The state should also make a "once in a century" bid for skilled migrants from debt-ridden European countries.
And Ms Neville said the 457 visa program was already creating jobs for South Australians because visa holders filled skills gaps and transferred knowledge.
By Julian Swallow
Sourced from Adelaide Now