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We've lost our mojo: business chief's dire warning

Friday, 23 August 2013
Author: Kevin Naughton, Indaily
'I see one in three shops with for lease signs'; McBride

"I see one in three shops with for lease signs"; McBride
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South Australia's economy is facing a crisis, weighed down by state debt, poor infrastructure and the inevitable closure of the car industry, says the head of the state's largest industry group.

In a withering assessment of the state's fortunes in front of a national audience in Adelaide last night, Business SA chief executive Nigel McBride said SA was at an economic crossroads after missing a range of opportunities.

He said it might be too late for SA to catch up on infrastructure and questioned why anyone would set up business here, given our high cost structure.

McBride also took a swipe at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Fringe Benefits Tax policy for "taking a shaky car industry and pretty much burying it".

"Victoria and SA are carrying the can for this; we know Ford is closing and we think (Holden boss) Mike Devereux is playing a game here and thinking when he will close Holden and not if," McBride told the Australian Pipeline Industry Association (APIA) dinner at the Hilton.

APIA's national board had met earlier in the day and 120 industry representatives from Australasia's pipeline infrastructure industry were at the dinner.

They represented constructors, owners, operators, advisers, engineering companies and suppliers of pipeline products and services.

"We are at the crossroads and it's not working for us," McBride said.

"As a state, we have lost our mojo."

McBride detailed how South Australia had missed the mining boom, failed to invest in adequate infrastructure and carried unsustainable state debt and public sector wage bills.

"Olympic Dam's expansion was over-blown and then missed.

"That window of opportunity has been missed.

"We're in infrastructure catch-up mode.

"We should already have that deep water port in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

"We should have that power line going down the Eyre Peninsula.

"We should have the energy and water, the road and rail.

"We are billions of dollars of catch-up behind and we are running out of time. In fact we may have run out of time to catch up."

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