Achieving financial security is a common goal shared by governments, businesses, communities, families and individuals. From the beginning, the Plan set targets to improve our state’s economy and competitive position to achieve financial security for all South Australians.
Between 2007-08 and 2009-10, for the first time in many years, South Australia’s Gross State Product grew at a higher rate than the national GDP in per capita terms. In addition, despite the impacts of the Global Financial Crisis, the state was able to maintain its AAA credit rating which we had regained in 2004.
When the Plan was first released in 2004, it was accompanied by Australia’s first population strategy and included targets to turn around an anticipated population decline in the state after a projected peak of 1.6 million people. South Australia is now on track to reach the original target of 2 million people over 20 years ahead of schedule. We have reflected this success and set ourselves a new stretch target.
The Plan has assisted us to diversify our industry base. In 2009 the value of our minerals production reached $3 billion for the first time, capitalising on the expansion of minerals exploration which was a target in the first version of the Plan. The Plan also recognised the value of the defence sector to our economy with specific growth targets and South Australia is now widely recognised as the Defence State – home to 25 percent of Australia’s specialist defence industry. Over 24,700 South Australians are employed directly or indirectly by defence activities, an increase of 55% from 2003.
Improving employment growth has always been a priority of the Plan. Even during the Global Financial Crisis, South Australia had more people in jobs than ever before, and we are continuing to achieve record levels of employment.
Whilst some targets have not been fully achieved, they have still been the source of significant gains for the state. For example, strategies to promote Adelaide as an international education city have seen a 146% increase in international student numbers from 2003.