Regional Economic Multipliers in Australia’s Tropical Savannas

Regional Economic Multipliers in Australia’s Tropical Savannas Report

  • Author(s): Natalie Stoeckl, Owen Stanley, Vicki Brown, Wolf Stoeckl
  • Published: 2007
  • Publisher: Tropical Savannas CRC

Abstract: The research described in this report is a case study that comprised one, self-contained, investigation within a larger project: the Outback Livelihoods project, commissioned by the Tropical Savannas CRC (TS–CRC). The case study sought to generate estimates of economic multipliers associated with key industries across his important region, thus providing locally relevant data on economic conditions and industry interactions in Australia’s north. The most important message of our research is that those who are interested in regional development should not just think about the (final) goods and services that are delivered to or produced within remote communities. They should also think about the inputs that are used to produce, or deliver, those goods and services. The development paths of rural and remote communities will be just as heavily influenced by decisions that are made regarding input usage as they are by decisions regarding outputs. Indeed, input use decisions may be more important; when organisations purchase inputs from a variety of different sectors within a rural community they promote industrial diversification. This will ultimately increase that community’s resilience, thereby ensuring that the development path is sustainable into the long run. In total, 978 organisations from 17 industry/enterprise sectors across most postcodes completed and returned the questionnaires. While the sample is imperfect (particularly given the low number of responses in the communications and electricity sectors) it can nevertheless be considered to be reasonably representative of organisations in the savannas and makes a significant contribution to the existing set of knowledge about industries and enterprises in northern Australia. Despite the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) comprise more than 25% of the population in the savannas, they were under-represented in the sample; fewer than 6% of respondent organisations were owned or operated by ATSI and only 14% of employees were ATSI. The expenditure patterns of organisations located within the savannas seemed to differ somewhat to those of their wider Australian counterparts, as typified by the finding that many businesses within the savannas spent a larger share of revenue on labour than the ‘average’ Australian business within the same sector. This is particularly evident in the agricultural sector. Across all respondents, the highest average percentage of revenues went towards wages and salaries (almost 20%). Respondent organisations also spent a relatively large share of total revenues within the retail sector (16.6% of all revenues); monies set aside for savings/profits (7.0% of total revenues) was the next big-ticket item. Expenditure in other sectors comprised less than 6% of all revenues—the smallest amounts, on average, going to the mining, personal, government, cultural and health sectors. While every sector was found to spend at least some revenue on wages and salaries, and on retail goods, few organisations spent a significant portion of revenues on their goods and services that were provided by the agricultural or mining sectors.

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Suggested Citation
Natalie Stoeckl, Owen Stanley, Vicki Brown, Wolf Stoeckl , 2007, Regional Economic Multipliers in Australia’s Tropical Savannas, Report, viewed 28 November 2023,

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