Guest Article - PwC reflect on Bigger and Better Beyond the Boom

The Committee for Perth’s Bigger and Better Beyond the Boom (B4) research project focused on the current and future economy of the Perth and Peel region. It identified industry sectors that were growing, industries in decline and emerging economic threats and opportunities for the future.

As the core funder of B4, PwC saw the project strategically aligning with an area of national importance to its organisation. With clients operating in almost every sector and over 500 PwC staff living and working in Perth and Peel, ensuring sustainability of the region is key to PwC’s agenda.

Justin Carroll, Partner at PwC and Chair of the B4 Steering Committee saw the project as a unique opportunity to discover Perth’s potential and set it on a new pathway to achieve greater economic diversity and growth.

“Different things are happening in different cities,” explained Mr Carroll, following the launch of the final report in the project, Bigger & Better Beyond the Boom: Perth’s Pathway to Prosperity.

“But the common thread is the liveability and the productivity of our cities, and the experiences that people are having in them. One of the main themes to come out of the research was the need to make Perth an attractive, friendly destination for people and capital. To do that we need to ensure all the settings are welcoming, and that it is as easy to do business here in West Australia as it is elsewhere.”

Greater Perth is a region in transition. As a city, it needs to respond to the evolving landscape to be nationally and globally relevant. From the recommendations made in the report, PwC saw two as standing out in order to achieve this: developing a long-term economic growth strategy, and from that the development of an infrastructure strategy.

“I have always felt positive about Perth as a city and as an economic and social construct, but I am left even more positive at the end of the project. We have a great future, great strength and, despite what many may say, we have a diversified economy. We need to keep embracing our resources sector, but we are now at the stage where other sectors of the economy are getting the oxygen they require to survive,” said Mr Carroll.

One opportunity that the project provided was the ability to undertake a retrospective look back at projects such as the Kwinana Industrial Area, one of Perth’s most important economic assets with great foresight shown to facilitate Perth’s economic development.

PwC see the establishment of Infrastructure WA, a key recommendation from the report, as an exciting development, and one that continues that ‘over the horizon’, long range thinking. With deep expertise in this area and the skills internally, PwC will continue the conversations around an infrastructure strategy.

“Perth’s variable and often transient population makes it difficult for infrastructure planners to consider the demands for infrastructure, especially social developments, such as schools, hospitals and shopping centres. Frequent changing course on infrastructure can introduce a degree of nervousness in the private sector,” explains Nadia van Dommelen, Partner at PwC and Deputy Chair of the B4 Steering Committee.

“The idea of having a stable infrastructure outlook increases the attractiveness of a city for capital and investment.”

Justin says that recent visitors to the city have noticed a difference, especially in our infrastructure. Bold, world class projects like Elizabeth Quay, Yagan Square, Optus Stadium and the new development at Scarborough Beach have been delivered, adding to Perth’s reputation as a ‘must see city’.

But Perth still has areas that need addressing further. Whilst we have beautiful university campuses and world class institutions, the research shows that we are failing to attract international students in the numbers that east coast cities are doing. There is also the issue of homelessness in our city. We can’t truly call ourselves successful if we haven’t made significant inroads into these areas as well.

Justin believes that we still have work to do to fully capitalise on our geographical and timezone advantages, we are heading in the right direction to attract and retain people and investment, and PwC are committed to furthering the recommendations from the report.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.