We need new infrastructure projects, particularly following the pandemic, but the main question is: Are we getting bang for buck?
The Government appears to be working on a hit or miss basis without proper community consultation or planning processes, rather than a logical, thoughtful, disciplined, professional process involving the economic evaluation of alternative options.
This becomes essential as available financial resources become even scarcer.
For example, in a previous article I have pointed to the well appreciated fact that Australia’s labour costs make it very difficult to compete in the traditional industries of manufacturing.
As a result, we have continued to try and depend on our service sectors like tourism and the industries of agriculture and mining.
Many now believe that there needs to be a Government focus on kick-starting advanced manufacturing.
These industries are essentially knowledge based and concerned with the innovation of high-end technology products in almost all established and evolving industries.
Such sectors can locate almost anywhere because they are computer driven. What they need is high quality technical and computer based skills. There is a huge export potential in such knowledge driven industries. Exports are growing rapidly.
Advanced manufacturers share a number of important characteristics.
They are globally oriented. They produce new, innovative products with high levels of design. These products are technologically complex, reliable, affordable and available. They are also newer, better and more exciting.
Advanced manufacturing products are designed and built to solve a variety of problems and therefore, have multiple uses. They are underpinned by a high component of intellectual property control and sophisticated, state of the art computer based skills and systems.
Such products include new computer software technologies and applications (e.g. for defence), high precision cutting and welding and building technologies, advanced robotics and intelligent computer based production systems, automation of processes, control systems to monitor manufacturing processes and products and systems for environmental management.
Many of these sectors could be located in the NT if institutions such as Government and the university provided the required support and leadership.
In addition, the Territory is confronted by a number of major problems of social and economic inequality.
While the Aboriginal population makes up around 30% of the population, many live in third world conditions of poverty and are sadly destitute, with no hope for a better future – particularly in remote communities.
Would it be too much to expect that a Labor government that is supposed to stand for equality and equity regardless of racial background, did more to overcome such obvious and long-standing economic, social and human disadvantage?
Would not this be a fairer and more beneficial spend of the taxpayer dollar than wasting such resources on an expensive, high risk infrastructure project such as the CDU – Darwin CBD University development that is most likely to fail?
While the current Prime Minister may not understand the importance of this – the previous Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, certainly would have.
Such alternative options should be closely considered and properly evaluated by Government.