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Advance Queensland program doesn’t approach innovation from right direction

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 17 August 2015

When it comes to innovation, the Queensland government is on the right track, but heading in the wrong direction.

Economist and historian Dierdre McCloskey has made a career pointing out that innovation is more productive of wealth than all the micro- and macro-economic fine-tuning combined.

So the government is right to concentrate on it.


But their $180m Advance Queensland program is the wrong way.

It makes all the basic mistakes. It assumes we are not an innovative economy, innovation consists in advances in science and technology alone, and is something out there.

It also assumes that government investment, consultants and conferences can make a substantial contribution to the increase of innovation. And that innovation occurs in startups rather than established companies.

In reality we are already a highly innovative society.

Innovation is all around us, and most of it occurs in areas where we have a competitive advantage. As Adam Smith discovered, competitive advantage is where the wealth of nations resides.

 Innovation that needs government seed capital will probably never pay its own way detracts from national wealth, as well as being least likely to be in an area of competitive advantage.


We instituted the Sir Thomas McIlwraith lecture this year to celebrate progress in this state, and its inaugural lecturer, John Wagner, demonstrates all of these points.

Wagners built the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport last year. Conceiving a second major Brisbane airport capable of taking international passenger planes is a major innovation in itself.

But there’s more.

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This article was first published in The Courier Mail.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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