watch-amanda-palmer-map-of-tasmania_hSome of you probably don’t know this but I used to live in Hobart, Tasmania many years ago.

After losing interest in the rat race that was Melbourne, I decided to move to Tasmania so that I could attend the University of Tasmania in the relative peace that is Hobart and get a degree.

I had never been to Tassie before then, but like many Australians I had a quaint, somewhat idealistic notion of the place.

I thought that Tassie was a little behind modern times and was a pleasant throw back to a more sedate time in our society.

A place where people genuinely spoke to others in the street, where you knew your next door neighbours well, and you could comfortably have a chat to a stranger in the front bar of the pub without the raise of an slightly suspicious, questioning eyebrow.

All in all, things were generally a little more pleasant down in Tassie and I must say that thankfully, all of these things were true about Tassie.

Tassie is a lovely place, populated by a great number of humble, affable people that welcomed me with open arms, as well as being a place of unique environmental beauty.

But it wasn’t until I had worked for the Tasmanian State Government in Economic Development that I started to take notice of the politics of Tasmania and how very different things were in Tassie to the rest of Australia.

Tasmania, like several mainland states, was a die hard Labor state when I was arrived in 1998 and not much has changed in the years since I left.

The Labor party has been in government for over 14 years now and it has overseen Tasmania’s inexorable march to economic decline, a path that is well worn by socialist governments not only here in Australia but around the world.

A mate from Hobart that I used to play footy with summed up the situation recently with a post on Facebook that I felt outlined the situation in Tasmania very well. So well in fact that I contacted him to see if I could reproduce it here for you all.  Thankfully he was very receptive to the idea 🙂

With that in mind, I present to you the inaugural guest post by my mate Trapper on Dacka’s Razor, hopefully the first of many such posts looking at the finer points of living in Tasmania from a local’s perspective.

I hope you like it – Dacka

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Is Tasmania a political wasteland? – Guest post by Tassie Trapper

All other Australian states want economic development, especially Queensland and Western Australia, where they relentlessly pursue it.

These action orientated states deeply resent the stifling regulations that they perceive as being instigated from a remote and paternalistic national capital, administered by people who have no real idea of local needs or constraints.

In short, states such as WA and QLD go for it, as far and as fast as they can – and it pays off. Tasmania however is very different.

greenjobs

Any sort of proposal for almost any degree of change or development is almost always met with loud and instant opposition.

Overnight a committee springs up, and interest groups with no skin in the game essentially make decisions on behalf of all Tasmanians that will stymie development and virtually stall projects forever.

Of course, no-one would argue for a Rafferty’s rules type situation here in Tasmania – our island is far too special to allow that.

However, it is time we all acknowledged the elephant in the room and Tasmania’s economic elephant is called structural dysfunction.

Mainland states are becoming increasingly resentful of Tasmania’s continual expectation of increases in GST funding to support our comfortable lifestyles, as they see it, at their expense. WA Premier Colin Barnett recently railed against the anti-development nature of Tasmania.

If they (Tasmanians) continue to reject any sort of development, well, what right is there to simply take the spoils of hard work in other states? – Colin Barnett

Objectively, you can see their point.

For every dollar raised in GST in the west, Western Australia only receives .71 cents in the dollar back from the Federal government.

Tasmania, on the other hand, receives $1.60 from the Federal government for every dollar raised in GST.

As the inequitable distribution shows, the only real thing Tasmania possesses is a serious lack of self-sufficiency.  Tasmania has become so reliant on handouts from the mainland that federal taxpayers prop up almost 70% of the Tasmanian budget.

protest1-wideIn its simplest terms, one-third of Tasmania’s workforce is in the public service, one-third is on social welfare, the other third is in private enterprise.

Tasmania has more public servants per head of population than any other state – one for every 16 people, as against one for every 21 in Victoria for example.

The Tasmanian public sector has even outstripped the growth seen in Canberra, with increases of almost 34% in the past 10 years.

One financial analyst has calculated that the public sector wages bill has risen from $1.32 billion in 2003-04 to $2.23 billion in the last financial year alone.

These levels of imbalance are simply unsustainable.

The response to this structural dysfunction has been to snip around the edges of the problem; take some mobile phones away from police officers, threaten small schools with closure, trim the health budget, and shy away from reunifying the three electricity authorities to achieve/restore economies of scale.

Difficult as it may be to accept, none of these things will address the real problem. This is the modern equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns. If we are to move beyond this unsustainable structure, we need to totally rebuild our economic model – and that means growing our state’s income, as well as reining in costs.

Late last year, former Labor minister Julian Amos interviewed 60 Tasmanian CEOs, union leaders, heads of peak industry bodies, economists, heads of government agencies and political commentators and came up with a damning assessment of the state’s economy.

On the front page of the report, Dr Amos said

Tasmania is wallowing in the comfort of mediocrity, a mendicant state, fast becoming an aged care facility in a national park.

The Labor government has no clear direction for the ailing economy of this state or its long term future. The Labor Government has had long enough to prove itself as a erudite and visionary party.

While it’s clearly time for change,  I agree with the notion that there will be no overnight fix for the economic wilderness that Tasmania currently finds itself in.

BaconpremierLabor have been in power since 1998 when the late Jim Bacon was elected into power after his home state of Victoria had basically sent him into exile as they had no confidence in his ability.

Bacon then set about creating a union paradise by enticing his old union mates such as John Halfpenny and company down to the Apple Isle to live a life of power and almost dictatorship.

The arrangement was rolled gold for some, almost to the extent of insider trading, but as with all things, the good times must come to an end and they have  well and truly ended for Labor in Tasmania.

Since Bacon’s untimely death from cancer in 2004,  there has been a string of Labor leaders fill the rotating post of Premier of Tasmania.  All of these momentary leaders eventually lost the confidence of not only the Tasmanian populous but also from the rest of our nation.

Constant scandal has surrounded the various leaders of the Labor party in Tasmania and the current Premier is only there by proxy.

sign1Lara Giddiness, sorry Giddings, (sometimes predictive text has a habit of suggestive ironic alternatives!) has no real thrust to her political vision, nor does she possess the ruthless nature to create the vastly different political landscape that Tasmania needs to ensure a prosperous future.

In essence, Giddings has no credibility here in Tasmania let alone on the Big Island that our mainland cousins call Australia.

Lara, please stop with the outstretched hands; Develop a real economic plan and stop relying on assistance from the Big Island to underwrite our state.

The Liberal party doesn’t have all the answers to our problems and as we all know from the proverb Rome wasn’t built in a day but after 14 long years of no real long term economic vision, inept political bungling and blatant featherbedding, surely the time for the winds of change to sweep over the Tasmanian political plains is now.

windsofchange


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