Annastacia Palaszczuk, 21 October 2015

WHETHER it’s sporting success, investment announcements, consumer sentiment or the leadership provided by politicians and business leaders, we all play a role in fostering economic confidence and growth.

Confidence is important because we’re living in a period of rapid change. We are in the digital age and living through a technology revolution.

There is no doubt that ever-expanding new technologies, plus the structural shift in global demand and production, are seriously challenging us. But these challenges are not insurmountable. They do in fact herald immense new possibilities.

There are already standout examples of new, groundbreaking, but practical innovations being worked up here.

University of Queensland has attracted worldwide interest through a vaccine-based rheumatoid arthritis treatment – an incredible breakthrough that is about to go through phase one of its clinical trials.

At QUT, an underwater robot’s been designed to find and kill the notorious crown of thorns starfish.

Job creation figures in sectors other than resources are proof positive our emphasis is paying off.

Over 34,000 jobs have been created since the beginning of this year. Importantly this includes 10,600 full-time jobs or 1320 full-time jobs created per month on average.

Liquefied natural gas – a brand new industry conceived and developed under Labor governments – is powering ahead. Already almost
$1.4 billion worth of LNG has been exported in just eight months. Last week Santos marked its first shipment to Korea.

That ship alone was carrying $40 million worth of cargo – at full capacity, with all three projects operational, they expect six ships a week. In fact LNG exports are expected to surpass $13 billion by 2016-17, to become Queensland’s second-largest resource export after coal.

I have just returned from an intensive trade mission to China and Japan, taking in Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo.

They are watching our economy closely, especially with a lower Aussie dollar.

These two nations are our most important trading partners – particularly in agriculture and tourism but, increasingly, in high-end technology.

Already more than 200 attendees have signed up to attend my Government’s Northern Economic Summit, to be held in Cairns. While we will build on our traditional strengths, it is imperative we diversify into emerging high growth sectors.

I am determined to see a biofuels industry kickstart here in Queensland.

A Queensland biofuels industry has the potential to be the next LNG industry in this state. I’ve spoken before about the interest from the US Navy. One of the world’s biggest companies, Asahi in Tokyo, is involved as well. Asahi has patented a new, more efficient sugarcane process that aims to increase the yield of both sugar and ethanol. Asahi is now joining forces with QUT and the biofuel plant in Mackay to progress that technology towards commercialisation.

On Thursday this week my Biofuels Cabinet subcommittee will meet in Mackay to discuss these issues and identify even more opportunities.

Just like mining, not only do we have the natural resources, we are developing the technology and the skills that can be sold to the world.

I’m passionate about innovation, and a big part of that is technology in schools. Currently there is no mandatory digital technology curriculum in our schools. In Estonia – where Skype originated – all public school children learn how to code from Grade 1 onwards.

In Britain coding is mandatory for students aged 5 to 16 years.

Computer science in the USA, Netherlands and New Zealand is a required subject in schools from kindergarten to Year 10 or beyond. That’s why the Government has released a discussion paper on rolling out coding and robotics in our schools, an agenda I will take to COAG.

The Business Development Fund is a $40 million fund that will help kickstart Queensland’s next wave of start-ups. We are talking about co-investing with industry on the advice of some of business’s best minds. For good ideas, a minimum of $250,000 is now on the table – half from the state, half from co-investors. The State will invest up to a maximum of $2.5 million if the business idea is the right idea.

Governments elsewhere are investing heavily to pursue innovation-led smart growth.

Governments can and do help create and shape markets, before getting out of the way. The Business Development Fund I’ve announced today is the perfect example of that.

I’ve got no doubt the reforms we are announcing today will be the cornerstone of the Queensland Premier’s State of the State address in 2035.

Annastacia Palaszczuk is Premier of Queensland. This is an edited extract of a speech delivered to a CEDA lunch in Brisbane yesterday

Extracted in full from the Courier Mail.