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For the more than one in 10 Australians who call Western Australia home, there is an unprecedented opportunity ahead. But to make it a reality, we must accomplish the hard yards together.
From natural resources to the technological legacy of the resources boom, Western Australia has the right ingredients for prosperity. Research from Deloitte Access Economics suggests there are nine clusters of opportunity, which could add billions to our economy and create more than 75,000 jobs by 2029.
These clusters are opportunities with high potential value. They are not straightforward enough to develop through market forces alone but need partnerships across stakeholder groups to come to fruition.
The success of these clusters depends on three stakeholder groups with their own unique role:
Government: sets the agenda and create a framework for investment to happen. The government’s role is to create processes around critical factors, such as environment and safety, and build a vision for the future. Our education sector is also critical to build the capability of our future workforce.
Business: drives the opportunity. Businesses invest, innovate and take on risk. They also have a key role in bringing other partners to the table to overcome hurdles.
Community: shapes opportunity by defining what is important and how they wish to participate in the future. They have a critical voice in our ultimate aspiration: to build a better future for WA.
While we’ve identified the opportunity for WA – it’s only the beginning. We need effective partnership to build on this vision and overcome barriers to success.
Finding a united vision
The challenge is finding a way for these stakeholders to work in tandem.
All collaboration needs to overcome two key barriers: trust and a mutuality of interests. Risk is inherent in opportunity and it takes a collaborative outlook to overcome it. If you only go in with your own interest at heart, then any partnership is doomed to fail. Importantly, this means understanding that while not all interests will benefit equally, they’ll all benefit.
A fantastic example is the collaboration between Rio Tinto and the WA government to provide pathways to automation jobs through TAFE colleges. A clear benefit for Rio Tinto is it has access to a pool of highly trained staff right here in Australia. Increasingly, industry must proactively define the skills they need and work with the education sector to deliver.
Working effectively means going into any partnership openly and acknowledging you have to give to get something out of it. If you want to own the end outcome, then it’s not a true collaboration.
A framework for success
Understanding both the power of collaboration and the challenges in getting it right has underpinned our vision for WA. Our first step has been building an advisory panel of experts from across these interest groups to workshop solutions.
Our panel features experts across business, public sector and the community who are renowned in their field and passionate advocates for WA. Their insights have been a revelation. With such a diversity of thought and experiences around the table, this group can comment on what has failed in the past and carve a way forward. They’ve taken our research and turned it into reality.
This has also pushed us to explore new ways to build trust and de-risk investment more directly, including establishing a fund to lead these clusters through the initial stages. A fund would better share the risk among interests and bring everyone together with a common goal. While it’s not yet developed, we think it could be the key to bring these clusters into reality.
We’re still in the early stages of this process. Already, it’s clear that opportunity is there for the taking – as long as we get it right. We’re on the brink of a new, prosperous future for WA. To make it real we must work together.
Michael is the Office Managing Partner of Western Australia and previously lead the Perth Consulting Practice. He has more than 20 years’ experience across a broad range of industries and focuses primarily on mining and oil and gas. Michael has provided services to many of the largest capital projects being undertaken in the Australian resources industry and currently serves as a member of the Deloitte National Consulting Executive team.