Jack Archer’s speech at launch of new economic agenda
Contrary to popular belief, regions and regional Australians are not hapless victims of change.
However, for forty years we’ve seen the areas beyond our major cities as just that. Victims of change they can’t control and don’t possibly have the capacity to deal with. A group to be pitied and saved by those of us lucky enough to live in the big cities.
This negative narrative, fuelled by a relentless focus on stories of hardship, has infected the way we view 40 per cent of our economy and the home for 8.8 million Australians. A place which employs one third of the Australian workforce.
The result has been a self-fulfilling cycle of negative stories that have empowered rent seekers and driven a succession of reactionary, centrally designed policy ‘solutions’ that simply don’t work for the diverse set of regional economic challenges we face.
Forty years of successive governments applying poorly informed, centralised solutions to diverse regional economic challenges.
And despite this policy failure, regional Australia has made a surprising and formidable contribution to the nation’s economy. In fact, without its contribution, Australia’s economy would contract to the size it was in 1997.
There is a considerable economic opportunity on the table for Australia’s future, if we can get the policy and the governance right!
Regional success is built on a balance of local ingenuity and proactivity, and informed, consultative state and federal leadership.
It’s time to get back to backing this capacity.
We need to lift expectations; about what our economy can do what government can do and what regional people can and are already doing.
It’s time for a period of change on our own terms.