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TAS Country : December 9th 2010
6 Tasmanian Country Friday, December 10, 2010 Opinion Farmers teeth' of economic recovery UPBEAT: Treasurer Lara Giddings says there is no economic crisis. TFGA matters with Jan Davis If private enterprise cannot provide the economic investment and improve productivity, what role is there for the Government?' IF anyone doubted the pivotal role that agriculture will play, has to play, in Tasmania's economic recovery, then I would invite them to join these dots to reveal the picture. This week, Treasurer Lara Giddings addressed a business lunch which was organised by the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and at- tended by the TFGA. The purpose was for Ms Giddings to outline the economic outlook as she assumed her new role. The shock news of the day came not from Ms Giddings but from the TCCI's new chief economist, Mark Bowles. Mr Bowles reported that there had been a 35 per cent decline in business investment in Tasmania since the global financial crisis in 2008. The steeply declining path of the red line on the chart he used to illustrate this fact was, literally, graphic. Mr Bowles explained that the plum- meting level of investment by private enterprise had been masked by the federal fiscal stimulus. In other words, the flood of federal money to school projects and the like has hidden the underlying state of business activity in Tasmania. With productivity way below the national average, any continuation in the decline of business investment will lead to lower real wages and a lower standard of living. I don't know about you, but that sets alarm bells ringing in my head. It's time for a reality check, a reappraisal of where we are at. If private enterprise cannot provide the economic investment and improve productivity, what role is there for the Government? Well, that appears to be limited too. Ms Giddings confirmed the Govern- ment would be seeking to return to a surplus Budget outcome by 2013/14 but with ''no hay left in the barn'' that was going to require a reappraisal of state taxation and a hard look at the weight of government, the efficiency of its bureaucracy and its output. The Australian Innovation Research Centre's Professor Jonathan West sug- gested Ms Giddings appraise the ''teeth- to-tail'' ratio of the public service. That's an army term for determining the proportion of frontline fighters to boffins. Prof West said the ratio at UTAS (where he works) is getting lower and lower, which is not good news. Ms Giddings accepted the merits of Prof West's proposal but did not promise to act on it. I think it is fair to say that among the captains of industry in Tasmania, there is a conviction that many public service jobs are overpaid, superfluous and boring for the incumbents. The additional problem is that they inflate the cost of labour. If there is a contraction in private business in Tasmania, a contraction in the public service, a contraction in forestry, a contraction in fishing, and so on, then there are few avenues left for our economic salvation, apart from agriculture. Ms Giddings was slightly more up- beat than that. ''Tasmania is not in a period of economic crisis, but we do need to listen to some warning signs and take action to try to avert a further downturn in our economy,'' she said. But there can be no doubt -- farmers are the teeth of the recovery. The message from farmers to Ms Giddings, therefore, is that we are critical to Tasmania's future prosperity so please don't lose perspective of the infrastructure and fiscal regime we need to deliver the goods. H Trees that touch powerlines can cause bush res. You can prevent bush re by maintaining trees and cleaning up around powerlines on your property. For help and information about vegetation management contact Aurora. And if you see trees growing too close to powerlines, call Aurora on 13 2004, because nothing is more impor tant than your safety. Aurora is cutting fire risks AURORA Energy has commenced a program to nip bushfires in the bud. Tree cutting near Aurora s powerlines is underway in fire danger areas across Tasmania. This work is being undertaken by Aurora and its authorised Contractors and is necessary to: • protect property by preventing fires that are caused by vegetation coming into contact with powerlines; and • ensure a safe, reliable power supply for all Tasmanians. Aurora and their authorised Contractors will be entering properties, where required, for the clearing of Aurora owned lines. In most cases this work will be at no cost to property owners. Customers with privately owned powerlines are reminded of their responsibilities to keep vegetation clear of their lines. For further information call Aurora on 13 2004. Photo: John Nairn, BoM. AGEN2884rj Aurora Energy Pty Ltd ABN 85 082 464 622 ADVERTISEMENT
December 2nd 2010
December 16th 2010