Hope for Tasmania

Tassie is in serious trouble – when Julie Novak and I wrote a report for the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry a few years ago saying so, and setting out an agenda for reform, all we got was abuse. One of the few voices who supported us was Greg Barnes writing in the Hobart Mercury. Here he is writing in The Drum.

Giddings’ first challenge is to rescue a sinking budget which has a $200 million black hole. This can only be done by slashing the size of government. Tasmania has more public servants per head of population than any other state – one for every 16 citizens as against one for every 21 in Victoria for example. The public sector has increased by almost 34 per cent in the past 10 years and one financial analyst has calculated recently that the state sector wages bill has risen from $1.32 billion in 2003-04 to $2.23 billion in the current financial year.

Then there is the unfunded public sector superannuation liability – heading to $4.78 billion by the time of the next election in 2014.

Not only that, but the state’s iconic energy company the publicly owned Hydro Tasmania is an economic basket case and the Tasmanian forest industry, long a source of revenue for government in this part of the world, is being transformed from a large scale industrial enterprise into one that is smaller and more specialised. Meanwhile the number of Tasmanians receiving some form of welfare remains stubbornly high at close to 40 per cent, a figure that has changed little even in the recent economic boom times.

So what then is the ‘hope’? Two things. Tasmania is now on the bones of its arse. That tends to concentrate the mind. A few years ago when Julie and I got roundly abused there were many excuses to be made, and they were made, well and articulately and many people in many fora. Now there is no excuse. The second things is the quality of economic advice the new Premier will be getting.

Giddings’s key adviser is Richard Dowling, a young economist who while he worked at the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, robustly advocated policies such as reducing the size of government, privatization, higher migration and lower taxes.

She will know what needs to be done. Whether she can do it is another question. There is a deep sense of entitlement in Tasmanian elites and until now a deep sense of denial.

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21 Responses to Hope for Tasmania

  1. JC.

    Meanwhile the number of Tasmanians receiving some form of welfare remains stubbornly high at close to 40 per cent, a figure that has changed little even in the recent economic boom times.

    Really, that big? That’s enormous.

  2. It’s always been a mendicant state and I can’t see that changing without abolishing its statehood.
    Getting rid of the Tasmanian government and public service would save the rest of the country a fortune.
    We should have a referendum to incorporate it into Victoria. It wouldn’t matter if the Tasmanian elites were against it, because a referendum only requires a majority of people in a majority of states.

  3. Phillip

    The concluding comment resonates with me. I left Tasmania nearly 40 years ago but go back regularly. I tell people they are living in a dream world and eventually the rest of Australia will stop subsidizing them.

  4. daddy dave

    Let’s not forget that Tasmania recieves more money in welfare payments than the entire state raises in tax receipts.

  5. Sid Vicious

    I certainly wish Tasmanians well. They are made of stout stuff and have already survived one major catastrophe in the last 10 years. I speak of course about Tasmania’s Governor, Richard Butler and his gracious wife who were both fond of taxpayer-funded air travel.

    There seems little to cheer the Tasmanians because if an axe is taken to the public service the numbers of welfare recipients will surely swell.

  6. daddy dave

    eventually the rest of Australia will stop subsidizing them.

    the rest of Australia hasn’t figured out the extent of the scam. Even if they did, the political will needed to do something about it would be immense.

  7. C.L.

    I really can’t believe the ALP has pulled the Pure Woman Takes Over To Save The Day stunt again.

    Getting old, fellas.

  8. Tasmania will become an economic powerhouse driven by Eco tourism and organic produce. Here is the Greens real chance to show their economic prowess.

  9. JC.

    It’s failed state, Pickled. Accept it and move on.

  10. Mr. Papaya

    I’m not so eminently qualified to comment on this as some of the rest of you are, so perhaps you could offer me some clarity on this issue.

    Wouldn’t we be better off if Tasmania was eliminated as a state, and incorporated as a region of Victoria? Or, better yet, made a territory, so that it has less power and influence? They are ridiculously over-represented as it is.

  11. JC.

    I think out of the Federation but with open borders, Mr. P. When 40 % of the population is on some sort of government handout and people like Pickled are telling us it is a sterling Greens show plate, it’s time to throw them out.

    It’s also a conflicted state as they will simply vote for the party that offers them the most in their begging bowl.

  12. Gabrielle

    Why all the Victoria bashing? What offence has Victoria committed to merit the penalty of a greenie albatross?
    No. As someone suggested previously, give Tasmania to NZ as payback for the many many many Rugby thrashings.

  13. Michael Sutcliffe

    I tell people they are living in a dream world and eventually the rest of Australia will stop subsidizing them.

    It’s a great place. If I didn’t have to work for a living I’d be down there in a flash (if I hadn’t already left Australia, which I would have, but whatever). I hope the rest of the country does stop subsidising them because if you make it too attractive everyone will want to move there and it will cease to be the backward little hillbilly oasis that it is.

  14. Quentin George

    Papaya – all claims about stripping Tasmania’s status as a state or whatever are not going to eventuate, since it is in the constitution, and there’s no way you’d get a majority of states to vote in a referendum to give the constitution the power to eliminate states – nor, would I think, anyone would want to.

  15. Myrddin Seren

    Good news

    The new Tassie Premier has already been working on plans to cut the burgeoning welfare rolls.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/01/25/3121025.htm

  16. daddy dave

    Good to see that Tasmanians, as usual, are concerned with the big important issues. They’re not distracted by the annoying pesky problems of having an economy or making money.
    That’s for mainlanders to worry about!

  17. Sinclair Davidson

    Now, now. That’s medical tourism.

  18. Infidel Tiger

    David Walsh (the gambling weirdo) has just opened a $200million shrine to secularism. Maybe that will put Tassie on the map with plane loads of Eurotrash coming for a gawk.

  19. .

    He’s a pro gambler. He can’t be that bad.

  20. Infidel Tiger

    I respect his gambling immensely. He’s a genius. Funnily enough Tasmania has produced some of the greatest gamblers in the world including the world’s biggest.

  21. Ubique

    I’ve been saying for years that the failed State of Tasmania should be sold to those who could make the land flourish – the Israelis spring to mind.

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