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From the Terrace: A Local Perspective

Director’s Update

InfraNomics has seen a very busy 2018, and I’d like to discuss some of the topics I feel will shape the near future of our State. These include Industrial Clusters, Market-led Proposals, the Westport Taskforce Report, and the Just Transition Authority for Energy and Port Workers.

Industrial Clusters

The Lithium Valley WA delegation to Europe has been scheduled for April 2019. The focus of the delegation is to develop and build on relationships with European companies in the new energy materials industries, including battery manufacture, assembly, retail, and recycling industries. Trade delegations to Asia and the US are being prepared. It is expected that foreign company visits coming to Kwinana in 2019 will significantly increase, up from over 25 visits in 2018.

The development of the Lithium Valley cluster is now emerging from stage one of its development. The recent industry event hosted by Dassault in Henderson showed a 3D impression of how the Lithium Valley cluster could look like and operate in the future. The Factory of the Future battery and cell projects are well underway and will be made public in 2019.

Market-led Proposals

In 2018, the Department of Premier and Cabinet released its draft Market-led Proposals policy for public consultation and feedback. Market-led proposals are key to opening up WA to new private sector infrastructure projects as they provide an environment and project execution pathway that rewards innovative thinking. Without market-led proposals, industry is sensitive to introducing new ideas, projects or facilities, as government is obligated to go to an Expression of Interest process that effectively shares valuable intellectual property from the project originator for free. Subsequently, there are no rewards for innovative thinking and the opportunity to build innovation infrastructure is wasted. In turn, when there is global competition for capital, this private sector investment goes elsewhere and WA misses out on economic and social development. Market-led proposals are not only common elsewhere around the world, but WA is the only Australian state or territory without a market-led or unsolicited proposals pathway. Although a draft policy was released earlier this year the final version has yet to be implemented. Until WA implements a market-led proposals policy the state will continue to miss out on valuable infrastructure investment.

Westport Taskforce Report

After 15 months, the delayed Westport Taskforce report was released this week and revealed that multiple options are still being evaluated. Perhaps the reason for the delay is that it is exceedingly difficult to find a political solution to a commercial problem. Our commentary and analysis of the report will be released to key clients to target the opportunities that now present themselves.

Although there are many options on the surface, once the options are viewed from the perspective of what is the long-term solution that best supports WA’s current and future export industry, the filter of international competitiveness will identify one clear solution. Until then we wait: the unrealised potential of the Western Trade Coast, limited employment opportunities and adverse economic costs are collateral damage.

Fremantle inner harbour becoming a cultural and tourism centre for the Indian Ocean Rim will just have to wait, as will the benefits of the waterfront transformation. InfraNomics’ Trade Flow forecasts completed over 15 months ago were radical at the time and conflicted with existing government forecasts. However, time has proven that these forecasts are remarkably accurate and show that top-down macro desktop analysis by itself cannot compete with comprehensive bottom-up industry reviews.

InfraNomics’ work in drones, sky logistics, and how data is changing infrastructure design, building, and operations has given us insights that show how technology will profoundly impact Westport planning in the coming years. These insights are not publicly available and it remains to be seen how the Westport Taskforce interprets the future of trade in WA.

Just Transition Authority for Energy and Port Workers

In November, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced that a Federal Labor government would create a Just Transition Authority (JTA) as a statutory body to oversee Australia’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. A just transition requires a holistic approach that considers economic diversification, support for workers to transition to new jobs, environmental remediation, and inclusive processes that also address equity impacts for marginalised groups. Fremantle port workers should also be included in the JTA so that the outer harbour can evolve to become a sustainable, internationally competitive port. This minimises the impact of modernising the outer harbour and the economic and social impacts on communities are reduced.

Innovate Australia Awards Recognise Lithium Valley

Innovate Australia has recognised Regional Development Australia – Perth (RDA-Perth) with the Industry Leadership in Innovation award in December 2018. Key to this win was the report Lithium Valley: Establishing the Case for Energy Metals and Battery Manufacturing in Western Australia. The report was commissioned by RDA-Perth and was co-authored by InfraNomics.

We have been delighted that the report has received significant state, national and international attention and resulted in global recognition of Western Australia as a key alternative supplier of products along the full new energy materials value chain.

The Lithium Valley report has also been archived by the National Library of Australia as it is considered to be of national significance and lasting cultural value for future generations.

Perth Children’s Hospital

On a personal note, my little boy who is 14 years old, almost died in November. Weakened by Influenza B, he was succumbing to septic shock from an opportunistic bacteria infection via his throat. The attack was so simple and out of the blue but within hours he was fighting for his life. Miraculously he survived. If it were elsewhere in the world or 20 years ago I don’t think he would have made it. Without the outstanding doctors and nurses, the most modern of health facilities, and world-class training, my boy would have died. I’m very proud of the WA health system. In this case I will remember the quality long after the price is forgotten.

Final Message

It has been satisfying to watch the emergence of the transformational new energy materials opportunity and the changing mindsets from shipping rocks to capturing increased value from finite raw materials. WA has come a long way in recognising just how significant the development of the new energy materials industry is to the future of the state and we still have a long way to go to realise this opportunity.

Some people limited in ambition, thought, and courage have advocated that WA should be cautious and “play to our strengths” - so let us do just that. Let us use our pioneering and entrepreneurial DNA to become a world leader in developing a new industry. Let us use our world-class academic and research institutions and highly skilled workforce to turn WA into the global hub for new energy materials. Let us utilise advanced manufacturing technology to build a sustainable future for our children.

2019 is going to see even more exciting industry growth for WA on the back of new big data technologies: data collection, data science, and data management. Data is the future and the company that manages their data the best will win.

WA’s future is limited only by our imagination. If you think it can’t be done then please get out of the way and give those that give think it can be done a clear shot!

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and festive period. Our best year is next year and we hope yours will be too.



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