Andrew Beer writes in The Conversation (23.4.18) that Australia’s local leadership, including businesses executives and politicians, is relatively weak when it comes to economic collaboration and regional development compared to that in other nations.
‘Even though Australia has enjoyed 25 years of economic growth, many regional communities have either struggled to recover or never recovered from factory closures, declining commodity prices, or a drop in tourists.
‘My research, with colleagues from Europe and North America, shows Australian development agencies are reluctant, or do not know how, to reach out and work with other government bodies. They are also less inclined than those in Italy, Germany and Finland to build bridges between government departments or tiers of government. Instead, their solutions are constrained by their own resources.
‘And unlike in the United States, Australia does not have a well-funded economic development agency able to mobilise significant resources in a practised manner. In the United States, local developers often command multi-million-dollar budgets that come from dedicated sales and other taxes, giving them the capacity to bring about change.
‘Australia’s local development agencies are starved of funding and too often can offer only limited responses to very complex challenges.
‘The Productivity Commission says leadership is key to forging a new economic future for these regional communities. But my research shows local leadership, including from business executives, state government and other government agencies, is relatively weak compared with the other countries.