Big projects are destablising in the short term and have minimal impact in the long term, says economist.
"It's that Territory mentality: if it's a big thing with lots of cranes, then it's really good for the economy. But it's about as good for the economy as two high schools in the long run."
Economist Rolf Gerritsen, research director at the Alice Springs campus of Charles Darwin University, is talking about the $20 billion INPEX gas project and its impact on the Territory economy. The Alice Springs News Online asked him whether it is the "game changer" from which "all Territorians" will "ultimately benefit" as Chief Minister Paul Henderson would have us believe. Professor Gerritsen pours cold water on that idea: "It's the way we see economic development. We don't see the university here, for example, employing an extra two people as economic development, but it is. They generate demand in the local community, a more sustainable kind of demand than these big projects." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Ross Engineering workshop in Alice Springs. Recruiting staff, already a nightmare in Alice Springs, will become even more difficult when INPEX starts competing for skilled workers. That's the view of Neil Ross, from Ross Engineering. On the other hand, the giant project – if it gets its final approval – may offer business opportunities for firms in The Centre, the huge distance from Darwin notwithstanding.