Marshall spruiks a Netflix and Blockchain-led recovery

Premier Steven Marshall wants to make South Australia “the blockchain capital of the country” and says emerging entertainment streaming services could underpin an SA film industry renaissance, as he looks to emerging technologies in his pursuit of economic growth.

Jan 25, 2019, updated Jan 25, 2019
TALKING TECH: Steven Marshall. Photo: Roy VanDerVegt / AAP

TALKING TECH: Steven Marshall. Photo: Roy VanDerVegt / AAP

Marshall is currently spruiking the state in the more temperate climes of California, where he yesterday jetted from Silicon Valley to Los Angeles, amid a series of meetings showcasing the state’s space, defence, cyber, renewable energy and “creative” industries.

That includes the “screen sector”, with the SA Film Corporation last year shifted out of a downgraded Arts agency and instead under the auspices of Industry and Skills.

“We wanted to develop a long-range industry plan for this sector,” Marshall told InDaily from Los Angeles this morning.

“SA has an incredible history in terms of film going back to the 1970s… but I think where this sector is going is the real focus.

“ SA has good facilities [and] we’ve been doing everything we can to promote those facilities… to make sure we can support the talent we have.”

He said the Government had been spruiking local writers, producers, directors and VFX (visual effects) capacity, but talked down the likelihood of increased funding for the sector.

“I think the government has already made significant investment… it’s now time for taxpayers to get a return on their investment,” he said.

“I think there will be further international investment in SA, both in terms of future films and series, and I certainly think it’s a sector which is transforming.”

He cited the rise of streaming services with bespoke content, saying: “When you see companies like Netflix, they’re really content-hungry and that content’s got to be produced somewhere.”

While Marshall says his current sojourn has been focussed “mainly around traditional [industry] areas such as food, wine and tourism”, he’s also upbeat about SA’s prospects as an early adopter of entrepreneurial technology showcased in Silicon Valley, with the Government quietly spruiking its interest in becoming Australia’s blockchain hub.

Marshall is keen to lure blockchain startups to the old Royal Adelaide Hospital ‘Lot 14’ site and his government is partnering with the ADC Forum to host a ‘Global Blockchain Summit’ at the Convention Centre in March.

“We believe blockchain is going to be important into the future as we manage global supply chains,” Marshall said.

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“For too long SA has looked in the rear-vision mirror at industries that haven’t had good growth trajectory… future industries like defence, space, film, cyber, blockchain, AI (Artificial Intelligence) – they’re the topics people are talking about in California… and I think we’ve got expertise in this area.”

Last month, the Government put out a call to industry, declaring on its ‘YourSay’ site: “We want to make South Australia the blockchain capital of the country!”

“Blockchain is an exciting technology that has an unparalleled potential to influence every industry… the South Australian Government recognises this potential and is working to create the right environment for blockchain enterprises to thrive,” the missive claimed.

It called for submissions of “well-thought-out projects that use blockchain to improve operational efficiency, enable business model innovation, or influence how businesses, government and society interact”, with finalists to pitch their ideas at the March summit.

“We’ve put out a call to industry to look at different applications for blockchain within government, and we’d look to be utilising and showcasing [those],” Marshall said.

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister David Ridgway has long been a blockchain zealot, telling parliament in 2017 that “it is something which I believe will play a significant role in South Australia’s future, across a range of sectors”.

“At the risk of oversimplifying it, ultimately, blockchain is a secure, unhackable, distributed ledger that will allow for instantaneous peer-to-peer transactions using cryptocurrency,” Ridgway helpfully explained.

“I should note that by summarising this complex technology into a single sentence I do blockchain and its plethora of possibilities a great disservice.

“In practical terms, blockchain will cut out the middleman and free up untold amounts of idle cash, reducing the time that money effectively spends in limbo.”

Marshall said the technology was sometimes lambasted because “a lot of people get blockchain mixed up with digital currency and Bitcoin, whereas what we’re looking at is how we encrypt distributed ledger for the blockchain and that’s really useful in complex transactions and long supply chains”.

He said areas such as mining would benefit in SA and his Government wanted “to help develop the skills that are required [to deal] with larger companies”.

“They’ve got long supply chains and it’s absolutely critical they’re secure supply chains [so] I think there are opportunities in blockchain,” he said.

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