The Rann Government’s US-based model for economic development has been judged such a failure in its home state that the parliament of Oregon cut all funding in the 2003-05 budget, Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas revealed today.
When the Rann Government announced its decision to establish the Economic Development Board (EDB) and to develop the State Strategic Plan Mr Rann claimed proudly that it had been modeled on what he called the very successful model of the Oregon Progress Board and ‘Oregon Shines’:
“In Portland, Oregon, I was inspired by the Oregon Progress Board’s state strategic plan known as ‘Oregon Shines’ that sets out a series of targets to improve the economic and social life of that state. It has been in place for more than a decade and, with bipartisan support over the years, it has helped the state achieve a great deal for its citizens.”
Mike Rann, American Chamber of Commerce in Australia website
“… they wanted to transform their economy … there is now massive widespread community support in Portland from the Democrats, Republicans, from the community sector and the business sector …“
Mike Rann, ABC Radio, 1 April 2004
“However, at the same time Mr Rann was making these claims the Oregon legislature had actually considered the results of the Board and decided to cut funding completely for the 2003-05 budget period,” Mr Lucas said today.
“The Board was only able to continue for this period because the state’s Governor provided some limited funding out of his own budget.”
Mr Lucas said the Oregon parliament again proposed no funding at all for the 2005-07 budget period, and that a minimal level of funding was finally provided in the budget this month only after intervention from the state’s Governor.
“This funding was just sufficient to pay for one full-time staff position and a part-time clerical assistant,” Mr Lucas said.
“In a stunning recent email to his friends and colleagues the Director of the Oregon Progress Board, Mr Jeff Tryens, gave a frank assessment of the overall success of the 16-year program:
“Is Oregon making the kind of progress it should? Frankly, no. Perhaps the single biggest idea behind Oregon Shines was that for Oregon to compete in the 21st Century economy it had to move up educationally compared to other states – to have ‘measurably the best trained and educated workforce’ in the country. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. By most measures, we’ve made little or no progress compared to other states.” Jeff Tryens, email, 24 June 2005
“Whilst since 1989 the Progress Board’s ongoing monitoring reports have reported a number of positive and negative results of the Board’s work, it is interesting to note the independent assessment by the US Department of Labor on the critical economic variable of unemployment.
“These official figures show that for the last four years (2001-04) the unemployment rate was the worst of all states in the United States for three of the years and third worst in the fourth year.
“With this record it is therefore not surprising the Oregon parliament has taken the action it has to cut funding.
“In the midst of all this recent controversy the Director, Mr Tryens, has resigned and has now been appointed by Mr Rann to a new position, reporting directly to the Cabinet Executive Committee, to help implement Mr Rann’s State Strategic Plan.
“It is clear that Mr Rann has been caught out making unsubstantiated claims about the success of the Oregon Progress Board and about its supposed ‘massive widespread community support in Portland from the Portland from the Democrats, Republicans, from the community sector and the business sector …’
“Given Mr Rann’s Economic Development Board and State Strategic Plan have been based on the Oregon model and that Mr Rann is now appointing the Director of the Oregon model there are obvious warning signs on the horizon.
“It is now apparent why Mr Rann has insisted that the first assessment of the EDB and the State Strategic Plan will not be conducted until after the coming state election!
“Mr Rann must now agree to the Liberal Party’s position that the first assessment of Mr Rann’s EDB and State Strategic Plan should be an independent assessment conducted and released publicly prior to the election.
“That will then mean that the people of South Australia will be able to make a judgment on Mr Rann’s strategic plan based on substance and not spin.”