Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Queensland, the Smart State

By Scott Prasser - posted Thursday, 10 July 2008


It is almost 10 years since the “Smart State” idea, a major cornerstone of the then freshly elected Beattie Labor Government, was launched. It has since been one of the distinguishing features of the Labor Government.

Economically, “Smart State” initiatives sought to diversify the Queensland economy to a so-called “knowledge” economy.

Increased spending on research and development, education and special research centres underpinned the policy - along with a lot of spinning by effusive Premiers.

Advertisement

It was hoped that the policy would produce high-tech industries. However, there was also a strong political goal within the strategy. It would not only distinguish Labor governments from its predecessors, but also make Coalition governments appear pedestrian given their focus on opening up the resource sector and preoccupation with traditional Queensland agricultural industries. The wider issue is whether the Smart State strategy has been the best use of resources.

After all, Smart State has cost us at least $500 million, of which most funding has gone to academics, universities and new research centres for apparent high-tech and new and emerging technologies (for example, biotechnology).

There has also been a lot of “relabelling” of programs to fit under the Smart State umbrella (for example, education). One strong argument is we should be focusing on our strengths. For instance, 30 per cent of our manufacturing sector is involved in food processing, which given our agricultural economy, makes sense.

Consequently, more funds should have been directed to leveraging greater benefits from this sector.

You only need to look at how important food is becoming in the world economy. The Smart State strategy is all about government spending.

In Queensland, government spending on research and development has long been on par with the rest of Australia, but private sector spending has not. Commercialisation of research and lack of innovative practices in the private sector are the real problems holding Queensland back.

Advertisement

A more deregulatory framework, improved state taxes, and better allocation of government spending on projects that make a difference are seen as more appropriate policy responses. In other words, let's make Queensland have the right competitive environment for business to come here and to make profits.

So 10 years on and what have we got? For one, a lot of happy vice chancellors and academics at a few of our major universities.

But Smart State's success in diversifying the wider economy has been minimal. Queensland's largest export is still coal, and our second largest industry, tourism, is noted for its low skills and low research base. One of the problems is trying to “measure” Smart State industries. The closest we come to it is the so-called “creative” industries sector.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

First published in Queensland Business Review in July 2008.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

5 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Scott Prasser is Professor of Public Policy and was Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute at the Australian Catholic University. Scott has worked previously in senior policy and research roles in federal and state governments and in several universities in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. Recently, Scott co-edited with Associate Professor Nicholas Aroney and J.R. Nethercote the book Restraining Elective Dictatorship: The Upper House Solution? He has just written with Helen Tracey a report entitled Beyond Gonski: Reviewing the Evidence on Quality Schooling.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Scott Prasser

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Scott Prasser
Article Tools
Comment 5 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy