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The are about 7,400,000,000 people across the globe. Only 0.02 per cent of these live in Adelaide. With a small proportion in a big world, there is a risk of being insular and lacking the necessary self-identity and progressive mindset to be psychologically and economically resilient.
58 THE BEST O F ADE LAIDE AND S O UT H AU STRALIA SALIFE.COM.AU
OW CAN SOUTH AUSTRALIA – 153 PER CENT
of the land size of France with only three per cent
of the population – prosper in the new world?
Earlier in my career I visited the Paris
headquarters of the consumer insight agency
I was working for. On politely remarking to my
French host that “Paris, is beautiful” she confidently proclaimed “but,
of course!”. I was a little taken aback by the arrogance.
Yes, Paris has a fine cultural vibe and reputation, but at the
same time it is awash with horrendous traffic congestion, an
ongoing terrorist threat and streets riddled with poodle poo. Add an
exorbitant cost of living, and I wondered how could my host be so
blind to Paris’s deficiencies?
South Australia produces the bulk of Australia’s quality wine,
and its food, wine and beer are the toast of the world. In celebration
of what really matters we can share time with family and friends,
over a quality local beer or wine, without the ritualistic snobbery
one would anticipate in the old wine worlds like France.
Please feel sorry for the Parisians. They likely would rarely visit
a pristine, uncrowded beach or a no-fuss, picturesque wine region.
South Australians are overwhelmed with magnificent beaches,
wonderful wine regions and a plethora of experiences only a short
trip from home.
Most Adelaidians go for a day trip at least once a month to
nearby regions. The favourites: Adelaide Hills (75 per cent*),
Barossa (50 per cent), Fleurieu Peninsula (42 per cent, including
McLaren Vale), Clare Valley (27 per cent) and Yorke Peninsula (27
Plus, South Australia excels at sports, arts and cultural
opportunities. There is an increasing volume of interstate and
overseas visitors attending; South Australia sells 56 per cent of all
festival tickets across Australia.
South Australians are as happy as any Parisian, consistently
noting a love of Adelaide and a desire to embrace a positive future.
“We need to instill some pride in the people that live here.”**
Business leaders are often far more negative about the economic
“It’s really tough; the screws are getting quite tight.”**
The general populace is aware of the economic challenges, yet
desire business and government leaders stop the blame game and
act. On the announcement of the Holden closure …
“Concerned it took this long to think about new industries.”**
Paris is by no means immune to adversity. Since 1961, more
than 250 people have been killed in terrorist attacks. The November
2015 Paris attacks killed 130. Is the inherent pride of Parisians in
part a resilience mechanism to such devastation? Perhaps true
adversity builds resilience to prosper in an ever-uncertain world.
My deepest thoughts go to the French. This is thankfully
something likely unimaginable to the vast majority of Adelaidians.
Yet, it may provide advice for how South Australia should be
resilient to overcome its own economic adversity, which clearly
pales in significance.
Adelaidians sense positive change over recent years and have
observed increased respect for entrepreneurial culture, plus growth
in new bars, restaurants and a generally improved city vibrancy.
Historically, South Australia’s geographic isolation and
population size have been impediments to cultural and economic
growth. However, the internet has largely removed geographic
boundaries and produced many fast-growth web-based juggernauts.
South Australia’s largest corporate Santos, established in 1954,
has a market capitalisation of AUD $8 billion. As a comparison
Facebook, established in 2004, now has a market capitalisation of
$400 billion. Add to this Uber, AirBnB, Shopify and many more fast
growth start-ups launched a decade or less ago and valued at well
over $20 billion.
Two priorities for Adelaide to be even better than Paris:
1. Get off the couch and spend locally. Buying local should
always be viewed as the default, and strong justification required to
shop elsewhere. If Adelaidians do not support our local businesses,
economic challenges will continue and job creation will flounder.
Get off the couch and head to a shop, a show, a wine region, a local
cafe or pub, restaurant, et cetera.
2. Embrace the local lifestyle and opportunities of a big
world. South Australia needs to become a net global exporter, as
opposed to a net importer, of products, services and disruptive
technology, to minimise cash flowing abroad. There is opportunity
for locally-based fast growth $1 billion-plus businesses selling to
the United States, China, India and beyond. Adelaidians need to
condemn the tall poppy syndrome, embrace multiculturalism, and
support emerging and established entrepreneurs and the local jobs
Adelaide is already much better than Paris in many ways. Future
prosperity will come from competing culturally and economically
with such cities globally; embracing and building on what we have,
and displaying resilience to the challenges and opportunities in a
world of 7.4 billion people.
Jason Dunstone is managing director of Square Holes, a progressive
market research and consumer insight agency established in 2004 and
now working well beyond its Adelaide home.
*Square Holes survey **Square Holes focus group
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Get off the couch,
There are about 7,400,000,000 people across the globe. Only 0.02 per cent of these live in
Adelaide. With a small population in a big world, there is a risk of being insular and lacking the
necessary self-identity and progressive mindset to be psychologically and economically resilient.
First published in SALIFE, February 2016. ©SALIFE Magazine, Adelaide, Australia.