Adelaide an economic winner from coronavirus pandemic, national business leaders say

Adelaide is emerging as a winner from the coronavirus pandemic because its long-cherished economic and lifestyle advantages are becoming coveted by multinational companies, key national business leaders say.

Analysis by PwC Australia chief executive officer Tom Seymour says big firms are increasingly turning to the state’s capital because they want a safe and reliable environment for workers and supply chains.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott, who represents Australia’s largest employers, singled out Adelaide and western Sydney as prime locations for big companies’ Asian bases because of their states’ record in managing the pandemic.

The influential duo’s analysis spearheads the Sunday Mail and The Advertiser’s Kickstart: Set up in SA campaign, which examines the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create jobs, business and investment triggered by SA’s world-leading coronavirus suppression.

Latest payroll data shows SA is the only state to return total wages to pre-pandemic levels, while only WA and the Northern Territory lead SA in total jobs returned since March 14.

Mr Seymour says multinationals, which previously would not have differentiated between Australian cities, were now looking for safe environments and increasingly turning to SA.

Jennifer westacott

Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott. AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi.

“The cost of living advantages and lifestyle experience that Adelaide has long enjoyed are on the rise in terms of things that matter for large employers,” the PwC chief says, in analysis for the Sunday Mail.

Opportunities for jobs growth also were afforded by the work-from-home revolution ushered in by the pandemic, which meant professional services workers did not need to be based permanently in a major city and could work from places like Adelaide.

Similarly, businesses that have built massive offshore hubs in Asia were now looking to relocate operations to Australia, meaning “a window exists for Adelaide to benefit”.

Mr Seymour predicted net interstate migration would increase as overseas immigration slumped and no longer was the main driver of population growth.

“Winner cities here will be Brisbane and, again, Adelaide, with plenty of Melburnians already driving across the border. And, of course, more people means more business, more economic activity and more jobs,” he said.

Ms Westacott, whose membership comprises the CEOs of Australia’s top companies, said now was South Australia’s time to bank the gain of managing the pandemic effectively.

“What I would be doing if I were the South Australian Government … I’d be sending a prospectus to all of these big companies internationally to say: ‘Asia is still going to be the biggest market in history. Come and locate your Asian growth potential in Adelaide’, and I would advocate western Sydney as well,” she said.

“ … What you want are those high-value-added knowledge jobs that can create other jobs by virtue of getting them to come to South Australia.”

Adelaide’s industrial sites and workforce, partly dormant because of shutdowns, could be reinvented for cyber, satellite and other advanced manufacturing enterprises.

“That manufacturing stuff is a massive opportunity. Like western Sydney, you’ve (Adelaide) got these massive greenfield sites,” she said.

“ … You’ve still got a lot of the skill base there. You’ve got a lot of the land and a lot of sites, be they greenfield or brownfield, that can be easily converted.

“You’ve still got a very high performing international airport. You’ve still got very high performing freight and port facilities that can get access to markets. You’ve got a very skilled population, you’ve got very high performing institutions in respect of skills. And then you’ve got very good cost of living, you’ve got very high liveability.”

Adelaide an economic winner from coronavirus pandemic, national business leaders say by Paul Starick originally seen in The Advertiser, 31 October 2020. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.