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TAS Country : March 3rd 2011
4 Tasmanian Country Friday, March 4, 2011 Opinion Tough times ahead for new leadership OVER the FENCE John Rich There is a case to support the Premier and the Government's financial policy makers in order to ensure we do not continue to live beyond our means, and do not go back into net debt as was experienced through the mid-'90s' ONE of the worst-kept secrets about Government finances has now been revealed with the announcement by Premier Lara Giddings that there is a need to curtail Government expenditure. Commentators have been observing that Tasmania appeared to be in financial difficulties and the Premier's announcement certainly confirms that to be the case. What has to be done now, and I would believe the Premier has sent a clear message to the community and to the public service, is that close attention will have to be given to all aspects of financial management. This will not be easy, but the simple arithmetical fact is that the Tasmanian Government must ensure it can operate as effectively and efficiently as it can. Heads of Government agencies will be challenged to deliver their services within a more constrained budget. That is exactly what the private sector has to do when times are financially difficult. Tough times require tough decisions to be made, along with careful management of resources and funds. It is certainly difficult for the Government when expected funds from the Commonwealth have been reduced. Ms Giddings states that Tasmania has lost almost $200 million in GST revenue from the Commonwealth. When this is added to previous reductions in GST income, the state Budget is worse off compared to pre-global financial crisis growth levels. There is a case to support the Premier and the Government's financial policy makers in order to ensure we do not continue to live beyond our means, and do not go back into net debt as was experienced through the mid-'90s. This not something that can be fixed in a short time but will be an issue for the next few years. It is understood the Government used up the previous cash buffer to counteract the effects of the GFC. The Government says there is continued jobs growth and other positive economic signs and at the same time it says the state economy is weaker than at the time of presenting the 2010-11 Budget. The Government proposes four key actions: Implementing a public sector productivity strategy. Implementing a new Government business strategy. Achieving savings from an initial policy review. Funding Government business equity requirements from within the Government business portfolio. It would be nice if the Premier came out to advise that the plan to increase the number of politicians in Tasmania has now been shelved until the Government is in a clear position to afford such activity. It might be interesting to learn just how much the annual cost will be to increase the number of politicians from 25 to 35. The Mercury newspaper editorial on November 23, 2010, noted that ''state MPs each get a car, staff and office expenses. The number of staff working directly for MPs (as opposed to public servants), rose from 66 in 1990 to 123 in 2008 and now the three parties have voted to increase the size of the House of Assembly from 25 back to 35 MPs''. ''They would have to be seen to be doing something about these costs. A major reduction in the number of ministerial advisers and PR people and a significant cut in expenses by the Department and Premier and Cabinet would help,'' the editorial said. Let's not forget that politician's salaries were increased by 40 per cent back in 1993 to cover for the reduction in numbers. Will politician's salaries and allowances, including staffing levels and so on, be subject to the cost- cutting measures being adopted by the Government with the public service? Another cost-cutting exercise would be to restrict the number of funded overseas tours taken by politicians and advisers, and make any such tour approvals subject to a cost benefit determination. Let us also hope that primary industry is not left out in the cold throughout all of this because the economy of Tasmania needs a strong and robust primary industry sector, adequately supported by the Tasmanian Government. This column wishes Lara Giddings well in her leadership through what is without doubt going to be a difficult time. Educated path can lead to fruitful future TFGA matters with Jan Davis If you look around the leaders in our industry today, it is seldom the case that they have got where they are by sitting on a tractor and doing what their forefathers did.' IF a young person, about to embark on their first foray into a career, were to analyse the pros and cons of different professions, they might conclude there are a lot of arguments in favour of a career in Tasmania's food production, whether as a farmer or a processor of primary produce. Which sector of our economy is guaranteed to grow in terms of demand for its services? Which sector is under-represented by graduates? Which sector is crying out for qualified people? The answer is food. I constantly refer to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's forecast that global food production has to almost double by 2050 to meet demand; that we in Tasmania have to increase our output by 70 per cent in that time. Farming is responsible for about 12 per cent of Australia's GDP and employs more than 300,000 people. It is already a big business, yet does not attract sufficient young people, particularly graduates, to meet that 70 per cent growth target. Some of the reasons were set out in a 2009 report to the Primary Industries Ministerial Council. They included a declining and ageing rural population, few graduates in appropriate tertiary courses, poor industry participation in education, and negative messages about agricultural working conditions. Marcus Oldham College in Geelong specialises in farm business management. Principal Dr Simon Livingstone recently observed that these factors actually represent an opportunity. ''For the astute ones . . . enormous opportunities available for engagement, reward and success in the rural sector must be apparent and attractive,'' he wrote in Stock and Land. ''To those who choose a career in farm management, there can be significant financial reward. Similarly, being the chief executive, pastoral inspector or managing director of an agribusiness brings significant financial reward to those prepared to work hard.'' TFGA president David Gatenby has made a point in his term of office of taking every opportunity to encourage more young people into farming and farm-related businesses, but with the realistic message that times have changed on the land. The work is less physical, more cerebral and now totally dependent on one's ability to grasp and engage new technology. He is right. Dr Livingstone believes that even in agriculture we are getting to the stage where completion of a degree will not be enough; those who are going to makeagoofitmayneed postgraduate qualifications. If you look around the leaders in our industry today, it is seldom the case that they have got where they are by sitting on a tractor and doing what their forefathers did. The pathfinders are those who have specialised in areas of research that give them an edge, that set their enterprise apart and enhance their chances of profitability and success. TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania 2048615-08 After harvest clean up. Avoid future crop contamination by allowing poppy seed to germinate on the ground surface before deep ploughing or ripping. Your Field Officer can advise. Call for Grant Applications for Recognising Women Farmers and Next Gen Farmers Grant applications are now open to provide support for activities that will build the leadership and representative capacity of women and young people involved in agriculture, fisheries or forestry. These grants form part of the Community Network and Capacity Building program (CNCB) which aims to strengthen primary industry productivity and build rural, regional and remote community resilience to a changing climate. Eligible groups across Australia are invited to apply for grants of up to $50 000. Applications close 5.00pm AEDT, 28 March 2011 For information or to apply visit: http://www.daff.gov.au/cncb or call 1800 638 746. AG38650 Australia s Farming Future 2054604-110211 JBS AUSTRALIA All types of Livestock required for processing at our Longford & Devonport Plants For a competative price ring our Livestock Buyers today JBS Australia Tasmanian Livestock Team Tom Archer Livestock Manager M 0419 310 701 Allan Boyce Livestock Buyer M 0419 310 698 Mathew Bosworth Livestock Buyer M 0438 912 161 Rohan Hadley Livestock Buyer M 0437 228 536 Jacob Last Livestock Buyer M 0458 921 397 JBS Australia would like to thank producers for their continued support.
February 24th 2011
March 10th 2011