From the Chair: Orana Outlook Dinner Address


From the Chair: Orana Outlook Dinner Address

The second annual Orana Outlook dinner was held on the 22nd of October 2015. Here we share RDA Orana Chair john Walkom's address from the event. 

Welcome guests to Second Annual Orana Outlook Dinner, celebrating the economic success of the region.

Much has happened since I addressed you all at the Inaugural Orana Outlook Dinner last year and there are many achievements to share for both RDA Orana and the Orana region as a whole. Possibly the most recognisable change is that we have announced a new committee, which included welcoming back some old faces; I hope you have a chance to meet them and get to know them over the course of their tenure.

The theme of this dinner is Think Global, Act Local. There is a world of opportunity available to the Orana, and this potential will not be realised if we do not look outside the borders of our region, our state, and nation and take on a global perspective while enjoying the benefits of regional living. In an era defined by technological connectivity we need to ensure as a region we are globally competitive and are utilising these connections. We also need to make sure our infrastructure is up to the task, and globally recognised.

We need to understand local, national and global supply chains, and carve our place within them. We need to learn from global leaders in business and industry, while innovating to forge our own path and leverage our own unique strengths.

Regional Development Australia Orana has been involved in many conversations on these topics over the past twelve months, whether that be on Agriculture in the Asian century or freight and telecommunications infrastructure. We’ve forged international partnerships, while also implementing local projects. Here are a few of the ways we’re thinking globally, but acting regionally.


  • Global connections are only possible through regional infrastructure efficiency. RDA Orana has an increasing emphasis on ensuring the region has the best possible infrastructure to drive economic growth into the future. We and our partners eagerly await the opportunity to launch the Orana and Far West Infrastructure Masterplan, which is a culmination of 12 months of work and is in its final stages. Next year, we will lend further weight to these plans with a further Freight and Logistics capability focus.
  • We have also seen the impact of our previous work this year, with increased political and funding emphasis on the Golden Highway corridor, a region shaping route we have drawn attention to alongside RDA Hunter.


  • In keeping up with global demand we must assess whether our current economic mix is up to the task of meeting future opportunities, and innovate, for a more diverse economic base.
  • Already, the region has shown great leadership in keeping up with global demand for ‘greener’ and more carbon-friendly technologies and practices. We have seen over $250 million enter the Orana economy through carbon abatement activities, mostly in the Western region. There are still many opportunities for businesses to participate, particularly in the waste and energy efficiency space.
  • We’re also close to releasing the final BioHub(s) feasibility study. This innovative approach would see waste products processed for a higher value return, giving businesses and local governments a solution and potential additional income stream.

Workforce Development

  • We cannot hope to meet the challenge of the future if we do not have a ready, skilled workforce at our disposal.
  • This year, RDA Orana successfully ran the first Work Inspiration pilots in the region, in order to build aspiration amongst our young people. But we know many of these young people will leave the region, at least for a little while, to increase their skills.
  • The Love the Life We Live website is an answer to this – working with 10 of our regional councils we have developed this excellent resource promoting our towns and villages and the region.
  • Not only do we need a skilled workforce, to meet the demands of the future our workforce also needs to be globally prepared, able to work just effectively here as across the rest of the world. This is something I have learnt from our Korean partners, who are working to ensure this skill amongst their people.
  • Very soon, you will see evidence of this project in the region, with Korean trainees coming to work and live in the Orana, facilitated by RDA Orana and the Korean Government initiative KHRD.

Whole of government planning

  • The Orana does not stand alone as a region. It is connected to those around it, and is impacted by state and national policy like any other region. RDA Orana work to provide evidence to influence government policy and communicate the needs of the region to key decision makers.
  • We believe in providing a strong evidence base, and aim to become the go-to for economic information in the region.
  • Recently we worked with our partners in the Bourke, Brewarrina and Coonamble Local Government Areas to show that the economic catastrophic effects of drought conditions on the full economy can be much bigger than indicated by rainfall alone. We are glad to see that Coonamble now have access to funding that was available to other councils as a result of this work, but believe there is still much to do in terms of bringing this regional evidenced ‘ground truthing’ to Canberra and Sydney.


  • The right infrastructure, workforce, innovation and policy settings lay the foundations for future investment, both from inside the region where we already see signs of business confidence, and from outside the region. The Orana is perfectly placed for this.


Last year our speakers challenged us to think bigger in terms of leadership and the global economy – I have no doubt we are in for a similar treat tonight. Enjoy your evening, and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you over the coming year to drive growth across all corners of our region and beyond.


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