New SACES fund boosts relevant research

University of Adelaide

The SA Centre for Economic Studies (SACES) will further strengthen its contribution to public policy development in South Australia with the establishment of the Independent Research Fund (IRF).

The IRF, a collaborative venture between SACES, the University of Adelaide and prominent members of the business community, will analyse some of the most challenging issues facing the private and public sectors and make recommendations to the State and Federal governments.

The initiative, launched with the IRF’s inaugural meeting on 5 November 2018, will see the economic and social research skills of SACES and the University of Adelaide applied to questions that have dogged the private sector and are often ignored by governments.

An early contender for analysis is the issue of regulations (past and present) which will be viewed though a prism of their relevance in a modern economy and their contribution to State and regional growth.

The IRF’s analysis will be provided to institutions and individuals that are integral to the development of good public policy, including the new State Productivity Commission, Parliamentary inquiries, MPs and senior public servants.

SACES Executive Director, Associate Professor Michael O’Neil, said that while the IRF has secured funding from a group of successful SA business people, it would approach its task and report in a totally independent manner.

“There is a clear need in South Australia for an independent source of informed and unbiased advice on a range of economic, social, financial and regulatory issues,” Associate Professor O’Neil said.

Associate Professor O’Neil said SACES has a long track record of exploring such issues and has published widely on a diverse range of topics including the drivers of the State’s economy; population policy; studies into regional development; the impact of gambling; the social cost of methamphetamine use; the value of social enterprises; the effectiveness of immigration; energy and power costs; unemployment and poverty, and the pathways to employment for the State’s young people.

In a major Economic Issues paper last year, SACES made the case for a revival of the State’s economy and included some controversial recommendations.

“After a very thorough and clear-eyed analysis, we recommended reducing the number of Members of Parliament and cutting the size of the public sector – suggestions that may not have been welcome in some quarters but which were justified by our analysis,” Associate Professor O’Neil said.

“We also advocated for the establishment of a State-based Productivity Commission and we were very encouraged to see the new State Government take up that idea,” he said.

SACES uses its online SA Economic Forum to publish its Economic Issues papers, a regular ‘data wrap’ of ABS statistics and, where appropriate, consulting reports for private sector clients. The ‘blog’ as it is more affectionately known will also be the platform to publicise the work of the new IRF.

“At SACES we are always interested in new ideas or riddles to solve and we would welcome any views that the University’s alumni may have that the new Independent Research Fund could explore,” Associate Professor O’Neil said.

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