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TAS Country : August 11th 2011
10 Tasmanian Country Friday, August 12, 2011 State needs to get productive TFGA matters with Jan Davis SAUL ESLAKE: Governments and central banks have very few options''. 'If Tasmania were a business we'd be looking at calling in a voluntary administrator and seeking expert external advice to help us trade our way out of this situation' IT is the end of a tumultuous week, in fact a tumultuous couple of weeks, for both the global economy and Tas- mania. Globally, we seem to be on the edge of another financial meltdown and at state level, the latest spanner in the works is the so-called forests deal. I won't labour that; suffice to say I retain my faith in a sensible and responsible majority in the Legislat- ive Council throwing out this poison- ed chalice. The Grattan Institute's Saul Eslake, a Tasmanian economist who is also an adviser at PricewaterhouseCoo- pers, spoke to the Launceston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. Against the background of the financial markets in turmoil and continuing fears of a recession in the US and Europe, he warned that governments and central banks have ''very few options for cushioning any downturn or promoting recovery''. He was more optimistic about Asia and the continuation of Australia's mining boom but said that Tasmania was, as he termed it, ''at the wrong end of Australia's multi-speed econ- omy''. Tasmania's disadvantages include: below-average participation in employment and productivity; exposure to slowing and, theoretically, reduced GST revenues; a higher-than-average cost of delivering government services. Eslake pointed out that each Tas- manian contributes relatively little to gross state product. Our contribution per head is $12,000 less than the national average, 21 per cent behind the other states. This is reinforced by looking at the gross state production index, which shows (simplistically) that only 30 per cent of the state's income is generated by actual productive business ac- tivity; 70 per cent of us re-circulate money. The harsh reality is that we are not productive and our economy is not sustainable. Yet, here we are planning to destroy one of the state's few sustainable and well-managed industries, just at the time when the economic soothsayers are warning of the dire straits we enter. Tasmania has perhaps the best-sustained and managed for- est industry in the world, an industry in which we plant more trees than we harvest. Explain that to your grandkids, as they consume more Asian rainforest timber and while the vast estate of national park forests burns in the summer. We seem set to condemn ourselves to becoming a failed state, living beyond our means with no plan to lift ourselves out of the doldrums. Our approach to major structural problems is doomed to failure: fid- dling around the edges by cutting a few dollars here and a few jobs there. It will result in social dislocation without delivering change on the scale needed for us to get our heads above water. We have limited public funds avail- able and we have to spend these on basic requirements, which leaves nothing available to invest in our future. A spiraling decline in prosperity is the inevitable consequence of such a hand-to-mouth existence. If Tasmania were a business we'd be looking at calling in a voluntary administrator and seeking expert external advice to help us trade our way out of this situation. We need to think laterally about how we can improve the top line of our budget (increase our income streams) as well as cutting costs. If we don't do this, sooner rather than later the receivers will move in, just as we've seen with some of the European nations. Maybe one way of addressing our problems is to seek Federal Govern- ment support to become a special economic zone (SEZ) within Aust- ralia. This would recognise the transition we need to undertake and give us space to rebuild our business model. It would have to include measures such as a specific incentive regime to encourage external investors through tax incentives, a single planning scheme and a priority status for regional development in the national context. There's a discussion starting in business circles about mounting an argument for us to do just that. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. An SEZ might appear a radical solution but it should be on the table for discussion. Opinion A trip down memory lane DARYL BARKER PAST member of the Jun- ior Farmers, Tasmanian Rural Youth and Calf Clubs will have the chance to catch up and reminisce at a reunion dinner later this month. All members from clubs in the north-west region are invited to attend the reunion on August 27 at the Beachways Functions Centre at Ulverstone. Daryl Barker was state president of Junior Far- mers in the mid-1960s and said at its peak the organis- ation had 1000 members across the state and 35 clubs. ''Back then about 75 per cent of the members were from farms and it was a fantastic organisation,'' he said. ''Not many people had cars in those days so when we'd go to meetings at Penguin, which was about eight miles away, we'd pick people up on the way and by the time we got there we'd have eight or 10 in the car.'' As well as a chance to socialise, Mr Barker said the Junior Farmer organ- isation also played a vital role in getting information out to farms through field days and guest speakers at meetings. Junior Farmers worked in conjunction with the Tasmanian Farmers Fed- eration, so at each club meeting a guest speaker would make a presentation on anything from cropping to calf rearing. Each year the organis- ation also held an annual ball in July at the Ulver- stone Theatre which would be attended by up to 600 people. Before the Junior Far- mer organisation took off in the 1950s, there were Calf Clubs across the state and there are still a hand- ful of members still around. Junior Farmers changed to Tasmanian Rural Youth in the 1970s. Mr Barker said the clubs also played an important role in helping out the wider community when needed. ''I remember in the 1967 bushfires we loaded thou- sands of bales of hay onto the train to send south to help them out with the stock,'' he said. Mr Barker said many farmers in the region had developed lifelong friend- ships through their in- volvement with three young farmer organis- ations. He said the reunion din- ner would also be a chance for people to catch up who may not have seen each other for decades. The cost of the dinner will be $30 per person. Anyone wanting to at- tend should RSVP by August 20 to 0407 873 117 or 0417 165 404. Cheques can be mailed to Rural Youth Past Mem- bers, PO Box 322, Launces- ton 7250. G t t G t V 4 4x Fl t t D w $16,99 V 4 4x4 Fl t t D w $18,99 10 Tamar Street, Launceston Phone 6334 8444 F R LITTLE zest. 1685JR
August 4th 2011
August 18th 2011