Pos­i­tiv­ity can sweep state over jobs rise

The Advertiser - - LETTERS -

BULLISH job­less fig­ures un­veiled yes­ter­day can her­ald a new wave of op­ti­mism about South Aus­tralia’s eco­nomic fu­ture.

By any dis­pas­sion­ate analysis, the of­fi­cial labour force fig­ures paint a pic­ture which de­fies cri­tiques of a rust-bucket or men­di­cant state.

Our state was among the top three en­joy­ing the strong­est an­nual growth in trend em­ploy­ment, with a 2.4 per cent rate. SA fol­lowed closely be­hind Queens­land’s growth of 2.9 per cent and New South Wales’s 3.6 per cent.

In monthly terms, SA’s job­less rate had the equal­biggest drop, with Queens­land, of 0.3 per­cent­age points to 5.6 per cent. As a re­sult, SA had the third-low­est un­em­ploy­ment rate of any state, in sea­son­ally ad­justed terms, be­hind New South Wales and Vic­to­ria.

This comes amid a his­toric global trans­for­ma­tion in the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, which has been a bedrock of the SA econ­omy since an in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion push spear­headed by longserv­ing Lib­eral Coun­try League Premier Sir Thomas Play­ford.

This tec­tonic shift in SA’s econ­omy was epit­o­mised by the clo­sure in Oc­to­ber last year of Holden’s El­iz­a­beth fac­tory – a ven­er­ated 123.86ha car plant founded in 1958 as a linch­pin of Play­ford’s post-war growth drive.

That shut­down had been pre­dicted to un­leash a wave of surg­ing un­em­ploy­ment.

At least thus far, SA has been en­joy­ing the op­po­site.

Clearly, the March 17 state elec­tion was a good one for the Lib­er­als to win – ar­guably the best in the state party’s his­tory to win from Op­po­si­tion. The eco­nomic cli­mate is, clearly, far bet­ter than the last time the Lib­er­als seized govern­ment in 1993, in the af­ter­math of the dis­as­trous State Bank fi­nan­cial col­lapse in 1991.

Premier Steven Mar­shall now can work from a strong foun­da­tion, de­ploy­ing a plan with apt themes of more jobs, lower costs and bet­ter ser­vices. While the pre­vi­ous La­bor govern­ment deserves some credit, the chal­lenge is ahead – to build and grow from an un­ac­cus­tomed po­si­tion of rel­a­tive strength.

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