Archive for September, 2010

Organising Local Economic Development – the role of development agencies and companies’

September 13, 2010

This significant report (493 pages) was recently completed by an OECD study team.

It’s the first such international study, drawing on 16 global case studies. The sections on the UK agencies sit oddly with the news that the UK Government is winding them back. In any case, it has an interesting section identifying principles for how such agencies should operate. Two that jumped out are:

 The need to aggregate otherwise separate interventions to add value. The report observes that ‘officers are often subject to fragmentation of effort due to the multiplicity of funding streams and policy agencies’. The solution offered is for development agencies to ‘aggregate otherwise disparate efforts, therein overcoming coordination failures and information asymmetries.’ In other words, knock a few heads together!

 The ability to achieve the confidence of external investors. The report argues that this is critical in local economies maintaining their market position. This is a rather charitable observation because the economies of many rural regions are slipping vis-à-vis their urban competitors.

Hard copy is $US182 at

Living Communities in Western Australia (BEST PRACTICE)

September 13, 2010

A new initiative in Western Australia is working with communities to develop their local economies.

Living Communities™ focuses on working with the community to find where the money is leaking out of the local economy and then identifying new enterprises and enhance existing ones to plug those leaks. Regional towns import the majority of their food, energy and services. The “multiplier effect” of their spending benefits other places. Many towns are not making the most of the assets, resources and opportunities they have to retain more wealth in the local economy, build social capital and become more resilient in the face of shocks such as natural disasters or major market shifts.

Goomalling is the first pilot town for Living Communities. Goomalling is in the central Wheatbelt area, 90 minutes from Perth, with a population of about 1,000. The project is currently identifying spending patterns (through surveys) and identifying social, economic, environmental and cultural assets and resources (through a variety of methods). Too enthusiastic to wait for the results, the Goomalling community is already working on several projects, including a community garden and a major community event.

Other towns are at early stages.

Go to

Cheers, Alison Dalziel, Senior Consultant. Morrison Low Consultants Pty Ltd
Mob: +61 4 2711 1884 email: visit:

The psychology of R&D

September 13, 2010

On the subject of the Nationals, I was stunned by their invisibility in the election campaign and their seeming inability to represent their rural constituents in the way the Independents do. The exception was Barnaby, but his logic is often tortuous and misguided.

I’m now nominally retired, but actually under contract to the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC looking at innovative small businesses in cotton communities – or perhaps more correctly at impediments to small business innovation. And last year I participated in a study of community resilience for the RIRDC, and have published (or am about to do so) farm innovation systems, the psychology of regional development, and creativity in the countryside (a riposte against Richard Florida’s view of the world).

The psychology of RD work identifies about 44 aspects of human behaviour impacting on regional well-being, and it suggests that a possibly critical element of regional policy is moulding people’s attitudes, expectations, personalities, drive, etc.

And, later this year in Melbourne, I’m presenting a paper marrying regional economics and Quantum Mechanics! You might think me mad at trying to explain the relevance of Superposition, Entanglement, Decoherence, and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to place development and mingling with Schrödinger, Einstein, and Planck. However, the wicked problems and social messes of the social sciences appear to mirror some of those concepts.

Then again, the weird world of QM often only cuts in at temperatures close to 0 Kelvin or at the high temperatures dealt with in plasma physics. Then a single atomic particle can literally appear in 2-3 places simultaneously and normal space-time relations evaporate. I have to recognise that regional development doesn’t usually occur at close to 0K or at temperatures reflecting the big-bang. I won’t go on boring with mental gymnastics.

Cheers, Tony Sorenson (New England, NSW)

The power of music (BEST PRACTICE)

September 9, 2010

The Cockatoo Network has numerous members in Canada, and one of them is Barry Critchley, Canada’s leading journo on the corporate sector, bond issues and stuff that makes your head hurt.

Well Barry has forwarded an inspirational video based around a collaborative performance from musicians in New Orleans, Santa Monica, the Netherlands, South Africa and other places. It also sums up a lot of the work that the Cockatoo Network does!

The video is especially significant in that New Orleans used to have a worldwide reputation in jazz, and Cockatoo members (notably Paquita Lamacraft) were heavily involved in the creative arts clusters there.

Since the Cockatoo Network is currently linking clusters across the world as a means of generating trade and investment opportunities, anyone in the creative arts space should be talking to our man in Louisiana, David Dodd at In any case, tell your mates about his video clip!

Addendum – Russ Fletcher (Montana) wrote: Here’s the full story of this great video and what’s it’s fostered in the years since it was filmed.

Silverhawk’s 10 tips to make you walk TALL with the new Oz Government

September 8, 2010

I am delighted. Not for Labor, but for Australia. I won’t bore you with my reasoning, but much of Canberra has already concluded that we’re facing a rocky and fascinating road for 6-12 months, followed by an election. The mood here has been incredibly supportive of the three independents, for blasting through the entrenched power and city-centric policies of the major parties.

Katter, Oakeshott and Windsor are politicians at the top of their game. As I’ve been saying for five years, rural interests have fallen victim to political correctness and the urban elites. These independents now provide a collaborative model to ensure local interests are better reflected in policy and programs.

On behalf of the Cockatoo Network, I’d caught up with Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor at the National Press Club to provide our RD policy prescription. We’re now following up with this, and there are exciting opportunities for rural and urban stakeholders to explore them with us. Here’s my quick take:

 $1.8 billion in Health & Hospitals Fund – initially for regions only (is Hobart a region?)
 $500 million in Education Investment Fund – initially for regions only (awaiting details)
 $41 million for regional GPs and Aboriginal medical services (already announced)
 $66 million to go to regional businesses and workers (could be anything!)
 $173 million for regional schools (more BER wastage?)
 $1.4 billion for various infrastructure programs (not sure about this – could be old money)
 $6 billion regional infrastructure program, as announced during election campaign.
 $200 million for more affordable homes as announced (this is a crock, believe me)
 A pledge to keep broadband prices the same regardless of location (wasn’t this the intention?)
 Regions to be prioritised in construction of National Broadband Network (watch this very closely)

Here are my ten tips on what councils should be paying attention to.

1. A promise is a promise – both parties made countless promises beyond those listed above – they must be factored in and should form the basis of your negotiating strategy with both parties.

2. A better system of infrastructure planning and prioritisation – the current system is not understood or respected. BER and western Sydney transport systems put a stop to that. Councils should take the high ground and aim for a tripartite deal for regional infrastructure audits and a 10-20 year infrastructure plan. Flagged with Oakeshott-Windsor.

3. Community Cabinet – a number of councils have very good cases for convening such meetings. We’ve been preparing submissions for councils, and will continue to do so. Ring me ASAP please.

4. Indigenous employment and health – such a disaster area. Not enough room here to discuss properly.

5. Health & Hospitals Fund – a can of worms. If you have a deserving case, get your local member energised whatever his/her political persuasion. Contact us for help.

6. Investment attraction – regional councils should be seeking serious federal support to help market their region. Talk about a program of trade and investment missions (both inwards and outwards) to introduce regions and specific regional proposals to the world. Flagged with Oakeshott-Windsor.

7. Reinforce the role of the Regional Development Australia Committees – city slickers haven’t got a clue about these 55 Committees scattered around Australia Flagged with Oakeshott-Windsor, and it now appears that Julia has twigged that they need a role and funding.

8. Call for a Parliamentary Enquiry on the development of regional budgets – the current maze of competitive programs and grants must be torched. It only sets one town or region against all others, and basically keeps 3,000 Canberra bureaucrats in a job. Flagged with Oakeshott-Windsor.

9. Help the feds help you focus on ‘people’ issues – skills audits, workforce planning, links to immigration and settlement strategies, community development (important in attracting skilled people). Labor has made a mess of immigration policy, but Gillard sympathetic to education/training. Flagged with Oakeshott-Windsor.

10. Choose five issues or projects only – and then involve your local federal AND state member in addressing them. COLLABORATION is the new game in town, and virtually ALL local members are now in a marginal electorate, especially now that the benefits of independent politicians are clear..