Services could be Victoria's way forward

The need to build an adaptable services-based economy, combined with investment in infrastructure and education, were some of the common themes elicited from participants at the conference, Victoria at the Crossroads?

Professor Rod Maddock, Vice-Chancellor's Fellow, Victoria University said that Victoria needed to think about how we are going to structure our economy.

"We need to adjust to a period of the high value of the Australian dollar. There are mixed views on whether the Australian dollar will stay high. If the dollar remains high this gives Victoria a very different issue. Many of the industries and services here are price sensitive."

He said one question was, "How do we build an economy that can adapt to a high or low dollar value?" And suggested one solution was to be "less dependent on manufacturing and more dependent on services".

Another question was, "How could Victoria capture the benefits of the resource booms, with the prediction that demand would be strong for some time." He advocated that one way, was to "sell services to the mining companies and the people who service that industry".

He said, "Another big thing is infrastructure."

Mr George Pappas, Chair, Committee for Melbourne and Chancellor, Victoria University, said, "There are huge opportunities in the professional services areas – technical, engineering, design skills, accounting and legal skills."

"There is a significant base in biomedical research and this is a growing and maturing an area that still holds a lot of promise."

He also highlighted "high quality health delivery services – delivering health services to Asia and internationally".

Mr Pappas said, "To make it all work we need the best educational investment we can afford and also infrastructure. We need to stop arguing about who funds infrastructure."

Peter Rohan, Partner, Performance Improvement, Ernst and Young said one conclusion from the conference was the need for "a non political way of prioritising infrastructure".

He said the consensus was that there was a "sense of not enough integration and planning" and the need to "focus on growing a particular sector where we still have a competitive edge".

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