Professor encourages Pirie to be great

LEADERS: Industry Minister Greg Hunt, left, Rowan Ramsey, Port Augusta's Sam Johnson, Acting Mayor Leon Stephens and Whyalla's Lyn Breuer.
LEADERS: Industry Minister Greg Hunt, left, Rowan Ramsey, Port Augusta's Sam Johnson, Acting Mayor Leon Stephens and Whyalla's Lyn Breuer.

A small economy such as Port Pirie can be successful, according to an academic.

Professor Andrew Beer, of the University of South Australia, spoke at the Transforming The Upper Spencer Gulf forum at the golf club on Tuesday.

About 90 people from the three gulf cities and region heard Professor Beer outline structural adjustment and major changes in Port Pirie, Whyalla and Port Augusta.

During a panel session with other speakers, Professor Beer was asked by Recorder journalist and chamber of commerce executive member Greg Mayfield whether a “critical mass” existed for a region, below which it would be in crisis, and how far our region might be from this situation.

Professor Beer replied that for at least 50 years there had been a lot of research into whether a critical mass existed. “The answer is ‘no’,” he said.

He said an economy could be successful, whether very large or small in size.

“What is really important is whether they have a growth trajectory, diversified activity and support to guide them into the future,” he said.

“Just because Port Pirie, Whyalla or Port Augusta is a small part of the economy, it doesn’t mean they cannot be successful.” Professor Beer is Dean of Research and Innovation at the university.  

Other speakers on the panel were Dr Kim Houghton, of the thinktank Regional Australia Institute, and Professor Peter Murphy, of UniSA’s Future Industries Institute.

Peter Kenyon, of the Bank of IDEAS, was the keynote speaker with a presentation on Transforming Regional Communities – Tales From Around The World.

The forum was presented by the Upper Spencer Gulf Common Purpose Group, comprising Regional Development Australia and the three cities’ councils.

The meals were provided to a very high standard by students from John Pirie Secondary School.

Industry Minister Greg Hunt, whose father was born in Peterborough, spoke at the forum before visiting Nyrstar yesterday and then opening an industry and trade expo here.

Mr Hunt, a marathon runner, went jogging along the foreshore in the morning.

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