Premier Steven Marshall discusses new Space Agency as part of Public Sector Forum 2019

Steven Marshall and Megan Motto

In front of a full house of 150 attendees, Governance Institute State Manager, Susan Bradbrook, and CEO Megan Motto welcomed the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, to deliver the keynote address at the Governance Institute of Australia’s annual Public Sector Forum, held at Stamford Plaza in Adelaide on Wednesday 26 June.

A key focus was the important role of the public sector in a stronger South Australia, with an especial focus on the big announcement from last year – the new Australian Space Agency (ASA) and the ‘Co-operative Research Centre’ is to be located in Adelaide - and all the opportunities and jobs it will bring to the state’s public sector.

“My government has high ambitions for the state. We want to grow our economy by an average three percent a year - this is three times the rate over the past 10 years. We have developed a framework for encouraging much greater economic growth and there’ll soon be further announcements putting detail around this framework,” Premier Marshall said.

Marshall wants his government to fundamentally change how the state’s public sector has operated traditionally, illustrating his point by discussing the space industry.

“Space is one of the industries that can help make the South Australian economy much stronger. Globally, the space industry is now worth $US 345 billion. In Australia, it’s estimated that by 2030, the space industry could be employing an additional 20,000 people as the sector lifts its annual GDP contribution to over $12 billion,” he said.

South Australia has a long-standing place in the Australian space-race imagination – hearkening back to the 1940s, and the establishment of the Woomera Range.

Marshall said the collaborative effort between the public and private sector is a bold new step for the state, and sees the development of an estimated brought to the table an established eco-system of more than 70 space-related companies in South Australia.

In relation to infrastructure, the South Australian Government is investing heavily in the Incubator, Innovation, Start-Up and Growth Hub at Lot 14, site of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital. This is where much of the new space activity will be centred as the industry grows in the coming years.

The Co-operative Research Centre will involve 85 national and international organisations, around 40 start-ups and SMEs, ten world-leading space multinationals and the Federal Defence Department, and has the support of international organisations including the European Space Agency and NASA.

“The Centre will generate $250 million in research effort over the next seven years. It is another powerful demonstration of the benefit of public-private sector collaboration,” he said.

“It was absolutely critical to achieving the vision to make our State the beating heart of our nation’s space industry.”

Marshall moved on to praising the Auditor-General’s Department and ICAC for the work they have done working with the South Australian Public Sector, stressing the importance of due diligence, basing decisions on solid evidence, and acting responsibly and honestly at all times – key core governance concepts.

The last Auditor General’s annual report to Parliament showed that trust in institutions, including government, is low. Earlier this year, The ICAC Commissioner reported widespread concerns about reporting impropriety, with more than half the survey respondents stating they would be worried about their jobs if they reported.

“I trust that the whistle-blower protections we have recently introduced will go some way to alleviating such concerns. Although it should not have to come to that if there is a culture which encourages people to expose impropriety and have it dealt with in a much timelier and transparent way,” he said.

“Accountability for getting things like this right must start at the very top. In government, that means with me and my ministers.”

Marshall went on to discuss the new cabinet structure, and the reduction of ministers’ direct-reports, streamline reporting as a whole, and produce more timely cabinet meetings, to avoid “policy on the run”, and ensure that “chief executives are collaborating much more and sharing ideas, opportunities and challenges.”

“I am privileged to work with many highly competent public servants. People who are hard-working and dynamic. Forward-looking and wanting to have impact,” he said.

“I respect their skills and will continue to back them as we work together to make our State a better place.”

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