PREMIER ANNA BLIGH
CEDA – STATE OF THE STATE
WEDNESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2011
At the start of the second decade of this new century we find ourselves delicately poised between
the heartache of our very recent past and the promise of an incredibly prosperous future.
We are two years down the track from the worst global financial crisis of our generation and just 9
months ago we experienced the worst natural disasters Queensland and Australia have ever
We've experienced the economic equivalent of being hit for six and going down for the count and
that has fostered a prevailing mood of gloom and pessimism.
And yet... we are a State transformed by a decade of reform, sitting on the cusp of the biggest
opportunity in our history.
I've been speaking recently of the need for confidence and optimism and today, I'm going to take
the chance again to trace out the silver lining.
For States, like individuals, optimism rests on two critical ingredients:
A strong sense of confidence in your own ability and
A strong sense of hope – of a bright future on the horizon
We have every reason to have confidence in ourselves and to believe in ourselves.
Our self belief is based on solid foundations.
Because the evidence is there to back us up
Let's think for a minute how far we've come in the first decade of this century.
As we turned the corner of the 21st century Queensland had:
A low skilled economy
A year less schooling than other Australian states.
A hospital system with some of the worst elective surgery & emergency waiting times in the country
Premier Anna Bligh Check against Delivery CEDA State of the State Address 2
Lowest funding per capita for our most needy such as Queenslanders with a disability and abused and neglected children
Unemployment rate of 8%
In the decade since, we have overhauled and transformed ourselves and our place in the Australian nation.
I came into the Ministry on the eve of this century and I've never been motivated by wanting to
tinker at the edges. I've always believed our ambition in Queensland should be as vast as our
And we've seen a decade of ambitions realized:
Queensland is now both a smart and a skilled state
The number of scientists and researchers per 1,000 people greater than the OECD average and that has increased at a rate 1.6 times that of the United Kingdom and 1.8 times the rest of Australia.
Since 2000 the number of ongoing apprentice and trainee commencements in Queensland increased by over 28,000 per annum or nearly 78%.
We have had the largest increase of all states in total qualifications completed since 2007 and 74% of all national completions occurring right here.
We now have a schooling system with 13 years of fulltime education, our school retention rates in
2010 was 81% higher than the Australian average of 78.5%.
We are rolling out new kindergarten places and will reach a total of 39,000 new places by the end of the year. That's why we've seen participation in kindy increase from 29 per cent in 2008 to 44 per cent now. And at the start of 2012 65 per cent of Queensland children will have a kindy place - more than double in 3 years.
o We are also making the move to put year 7 into our high schools as our education reforms
o And when it comes to selling higher education to the world, we've seen our exports in the sector
quadruple from almost $700m in 2000 to more than $2.8 billion today.
Our hospital system has the shortest elective surgery lists in Australia and emergency wait times that have gone from 6th to 3rd in Australia – in fact right now we are the only health system to meet all the national targets Premier Anna Bligh Check against Delivery CEDA State of the State Address 3
Almost 30% of Australia's aviation firms are located in Queensland. In fact Queensland is now at the centre of Australia's aerospace industry and helicopter industry - one of the key high skill, high tech industries of this century.
Queensland's biotechnology industry has grown from $150 million earnings (2002) to over $1 billion (2008).
With LNG, a world-first new industry is taking shape in Queensland, creating a once in a generation opportunity for employment and prosperity.
Three fully financed projects are now investing $45bn in our economy in projects that will be the
first in the world to convert coal seam gas into liquid natural gas for export.
This industry was unheard of ten years ago, unbankable five years ago, unapproved two years ago and it is becoming a reality today. I went to the last election with the facilitation of this new industry as a key plank of our jobs plan - and it's been delivered in world record time.
We have doubled the research jobs in Queensland to more than 18,000 today – and our support for research and innovation has had global success, including Gardasil, the cervical cancer vaccine, that has changed the lives of millions of teenage girls around the world.
But the success of Gardasil shows how much more we still have to do – because when it came to
manufacturing, it had to go offshore.
Our next challenge is to create the opportunity to not only research the next medical breakthrough – but to make it here as well. That's why our investment in the new Translational Research Institute
here at the PA in Brisbane is so important - it will deliver Australia's first and only pharmaceutical
research, development & manufacturing facility right here in our backyard.
And it's not only drug manufacturing that's set to thrive. Manufacturers that are supplying inputs to
mineral processing & engineering construction are growing apace. And in the last financial year
employment increased in food & beverage products, paper & printing, non metallic mineral products and related manufacturing sectors.
After everything we've been through unemployment stands at 5.9% and our economy is leading the nation with forecast growth of 5%
This week's report by the CBA recorded CAPEX spending in Queensland in the last quarter growing by 21.4 % - accounting for 99.3% of the national CAPEX growth. Premier Anna Bligh Check against Delivery CEDA State of the State Address 4
Recently Pitcher Partners released a report on average taxes paid by SMEs in their 1st year of
operation, which earned the headline – Beautiful one day, lower taxes the next – where they
compared taxes paid by business in States across Australia.
They found that when combining all taxes Queensland businesses paid around $25,000 less than
NSW, and more than $30,000 less than Victoria.
The authors state:
"don't expect states to match Queensland any time soon, were not seeing other people replicating reduced taxes in other states".
We have taken ourselves from the back of the pack to front and centre.
This transformation has been built on the back of a significant mining boom as economies like China, Korea and India began their own transformations fuelling huge demands for our resources.
But that is only half the story. It's been our strong belief in what we can achieve, our strong sense of our own capability that has helped to catapult us forward.
We have set about fundamentally modernizing, diversifying and skilling our economy – creating jobs for the future, and boosting living standards.
More recently we've had to call on our self belief as we recover from our natural disasters and our
confidence in our abilities is driving our reconstruction effort at a world beating pace.
And despite the recent challenges we have faced, I think if we look at our position in the world today we are in a pretty good place.
America is a stalled colossus struggling to regain momentum while the Eurozone struggles to grow at all.
The EU is in crisis within, as first Ireland and Greece and now Italy and Spain are battered by the
And the EU facing challenges abroad - falling global demand is hitting European manufacturers hard.
Meanwhile the opportunities loom large for Queensland.
There will be continued growth of a global middle class.
By 2030 it will reach a billion - with more than eight out of ten of them living outside the currently
rich OECD countries. Premier Anna Bligh Check against Delivery CEDA State of the State Address 5
And so many of them living near us - in India and China.
Their increasing wealth can be a source of prosperity for us.
But we need to be creating and providing the goods and services they want. From tourism to higher education we do it already, but as the market grows so will the competition for it.
We can do this, and we can succeed. The rise of new economies does not have to mean the decline of existing ones.
But the key to winning in the new world is actively preparing for it. And at the heart of that is a focus on the things our businesses and our people need to succeed - because only when they do well does QLD succeed.
So what about the 2nd ingredient? Where are we headed next and what is out there on the horizon? What do we have to look forward to?
We are heading into a new boom and it is a boom the likes of which we've never seen
The stars have aligned perfectly for business investment in Queensland:
According to the latest Deloitte Access Investment Monitor, the total value of known investment
projects in Queensland either committed or under construction surpassed $81 Billion as at June
2011 – that's the highest on record.
In the Bowen Basin alone there are some 38 new projects targeted to development in the next six
years, including 23 new coal mines, 12 CSG projects and three mineral projects.
And in the last quarter Queensland recorded the strongest growth in State final demand of any state or territory.
Driving the demand for skills are the Engineering and construction sectors which rose by 29.1% in the last quarter - our engineering sector is up 90% on the previous year.
This is not a flash in the pan. This is a fundamental and generational re-structure of our state and our economic base.
What's on our horizon is unique, unlike anything we've ever seen before and we need to think about it in new ways.
The challenge is to think ahead - to cast our minds into this bright future so we can properly harness its' titanic power. Premier Anna Bligh Check against Delivery CEDA State of the State Address 6
In the last time the imperatives were obvious – we had to use the boom to pull Queensland forward, to catch up with the pack and ensure the dividend to Queenslanders was a State that was modernised socially, economically and culturally.
In 10 years we had to make up the ground other states had covered over the last 30-40 years.
This time we can leave them all eating our dust. This time the dividend can go on and on and on
again if work to harness it.
Being ahead of this giant wave of opportunity, being ready for it, knowing how to catch it and surf it – that's the single biggest challenge for Queensland in the decade before us.
This will be the last CEDA 'State of the State' address I'll give before the next State election; when Queensland will decide who will lead us into this huge opportunity.
So I want to lay down a few markers about where I and Labor want to take us next.
Our vision is to:
1. Harness the boom and make sure it works for all Queenslanders, not just a privileged few.
It is not inevitable that the boom should mean a two speed economy.
Just as it is not inevitable that only a small portion of the population can benefit from it. The boom
belongs to all of us, just like the resources in the ground.
So our focus will be on linking Queenslanders into the opportunities expanding, expanding our skills offerings, on challenging our training & employment programs & facilitating local companies and supplies into the big projects.
2. Channel the boom to make Queenslanders the most highly educated, highly skilled workforce in Australia first and then we'll take on the world.
We can do this. Already Queensland has the highest skill level for 20 -24 year olds in the country – 87.9% in Queensland have completed year 12 or attained cert ii level or above compared to the national average of 85.6%
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) sets the standard for OECD where 65 nations and partner nations take part and Australia finished 9th on the list.
It is doable and Queensland can do it. We can take our wealth from the earth and give it to our children...and we do that most effectively by investing in their minds. Premier Anna Bligh Check against Delivery CEDA State of the State Address 7
We want to transferring our wealth from mines to minds.
This means our focus will be on increasing our investment in education at all levels. In the early years, in our schools, our training sector and beyond into higher education.
It means our focus should shift from benchmarking our results with NSW and Victoria, to
benchmarking our system with Singapore.
3. We should harness this new wealth, to grow a critical mass of capability in areas of high skilled global demand.
We should aspire to be an Asia pacific hub for new forms of energy, in gas, biofuels and renewable sources. We can develop intellectual property and technical capability in these industries that the world will need just as much as our physical resources.
We should also aspire to become an international engineering centre of excellence.
The scale of our current projects is already attracting world attention - drawing high skilled people
from around the world.
This means our focus will be on working with our universities and major companies to use this boom to make Queensland the engineering equivalent of a silicon valley.
I got into politics because I wanted to make a difference.
This boom will shape a generation. Like the last one, it will reshape our State. It can be the
difference between the decline being experienced in the old world and the promise of the Asian
We all know that Queensland has always had brawn.
Today, we are combining our strength and youth and energy with brains.
Our task is to harness this boom, to pour it into the minds and skills of the next generation.
Because we can only take the energy from the earth once.
But when it's gone, it can live on, in the minds and capability of our people.