The State of Western Australia is the economic powerhouse of Australia.
I have been fortunate to be exposed to some high level events over the past week that exemplify just why Perth is starting to slide out of its shell and mature into the large financially self sustaining Capital City it needs to become.
It was a rare pleasure to attend The Australian, Deutsche Bank Business Leaders forum last week to hear Don Volete, retiring Woodside CEO, Ann Pickard, CEO of Shell, and Premier Colin Barnett comment on their assessment and vision for industry in Western Australia. We are particularly fortunate to have an articulate Premier who understands the commercial realities and business drivers that can facilitate and foster industry growth. Those who took the time to listen to the Premier’s comments, and views on the relationship between State and Federal Government could only have been impressed by the way in which the economic credentials of WA are being represented to Canberra.
As a sidenote, it was interesting to contrast the business news coverage across the various papers. The Australian has business journalism of a very high quality, and their reinvestment into the sponsorship of this event is a hallmark which reflects that. Sadly, the West Australian pales into insignificance, and their coverage of this event was not even honest enough to acknowledge the Australian’s sponsorship. They did mention Deutsche Bank, but could not bring themselves to credit a market competitor. Similarly the coverage of world news is far more insightful (and accurate) in the Australian. I have therefore decided to stop reading the West and start reading the Australian. Two days into the exercise I am far better educated as a result. Thank you to the Australian Newspaper for restoring my faith in journalism!
Returning to the thread of this post, I have been relieved that the management of the Western Australian economy is starting to be structured in such a way that the State’s wealth will be sustained and its infrastructure will be well designed to support further economic growth. The approach taken by our State Government towards harnessing the power of foreign investment and sharing in the dividends of our trading partners is a modern and wise strategy to pursue.
There is another innovative and economic powerhouse that is emerging, which is the small nation of Israel. Some of the technologies and sciences of Israel could deliver massive benefits to Western Australia. We already see some Israeli technology deployed in our state to support desalination and irrigation. However it is only a scratch on the surface of what could potentially be delivered. In some areas of our State farmers are struggling to survive. Yet Israeli Agri-technology could deliver crop production and livestock solutions that overcome the impact of severe drought. There are a number of sustainable energy technologies that could greatly enhance supply and reduce demand for energy consumption.
Just today the media are in a discussion about streetlighting costs. Councils have had their costs increase by 30%, which will be passed on in higher ratings. Some reports measure this at $13 per household worth of increased rates. Across Perth municipalities, Local Governments will be paying at least $12 million more per annum for streetlighting, which is yet another well disguised hit to the hip pocket of the taxpayer. So how could Israel help with this? Take for example products that lower the amperage on globes, or products that contribute towards lower maintenance costs by increasing the globe lifecycle. Or take products such as energy generation. Israel is one of the largest producers of solar technology, including solar powered street lighting infrastructure. Here is another innovative example. The company Innowatech has developed technology to generate energy from traffic driving down the road. The Government has just announced an extension to the Mitchell Highway. Imagine if as part of this project they collected energy from the road to power the streetlights at its side? This is a technical and functional reality, but it is not so much as on the radar for our future roadbuilding infrastructure.
There are countless more examples of how WA could benefit from Israeli technology. It could be electric cars, technology in schools, medical support in hospitals, or agricultural and horticultural solutions to enhance food production. It could even be in areas such as town planning, engineering and infrastructure development for isolated regions of the State.
In 2008 Bob Kucera visited Israel with a Parliamentary delegation under the Rambam program and compiled a very visionary report on how closer ties with Israel could support local industry. It is worth revisiting that report, and encouraging further delegations and reciprocal trade proposals. The flow on benefits to all Western Australians could be very significant.