Fu­ture done on our terms

Mercury (Hobart) - - LETTERS -

TODD Babiak is a smart guy. The Cana­dian-raised chief ex­ec­u­tive of Brand Tas­ma­nia has only been on the is­land for a year or so but al­ready he has mapped out a very Tas­ma­nian way to­wards fu­ture pros­per­ity for our state.

The world has reached “peak beige”, Mr Babiak told as­so­ciate ed­i­tor Amanda Ducker in yes­ter­day’s print edi­tion – and yet Tas­ma­nia, al­most uniquely, has man­aged to re­tain some­thing dif­fer­ent. And that, he says, is “a mas­sive ad­van­tage at this mo­ment in our his­tory”. And that is what we should be selling to this hy­per-con­nected world, where peo­ple are in­creas­ingly will­ing to pay overs for the “ex­tra­or­di­nary”.

Our recipe for suc­cess into the fu­ture? Mr Babiak says it is ac­tu­ally some­thing that comes nat­u­rally to Tas­ma­ni­ans: to opt to pro­tect what we have that is spe­cial over just rush­ing in to make some fast cash. To re­sist be­com­ing any­thing else than Tas­ma­nian: “If it is ex­tra­or­di­nary, peo­ple are will­ing to pay more for it.”

Mr Babiak’s eco­nomic pre­scrip­tion is a pretty solid scene-set­ter early on in the Mer­cury’s two-week ex­plo­ration of Fu­ture Tas­ma­nia. This idea that never be­ing able to com­pete on scale ac­tu­ally works in our favour and that we should fo­cus on “selling 50 of some­thing re­ally amaz­ing”. It’s all about the yield.

Babiak likes to use an­other anal­ogy here too. A gen­er­a­tion or two ago, he notes, Tas­ma­nia was mar­keted as the “Switzer­land of the south” – all snow

OUR RECIPE FOR SUC­CESS INTO THE FU­TURE? IT IS SOME­THING THAT COMES NAT­U­RALLY TO TAS­MA­NI­ANS: TO OPT TO PRO­TECT WHAT WE HAVE THAT IS SPE­CIAL OVER RUSH­ING IN TO MAKE SOME FAST CASH

capped moun­tains and crys­tal-clear lakes. We still have those things, of course. But these days this like­ness also has a much deeper mean­ing. Switzer­land is, of course, also world renowned as the ori­gin of the finest watches in the world – and also, there­fore, the most ex­pen­sive. To wear a “Swiss watch” means noth­ing. As Tas­ma­ni­ans we need to wake up to the fact that the same al­ready ap­plies in­ter­na­tion­ally to what we pro­duce. To drink a Tas­ma­nian sparkling wine in Europe, for in­stance, has be­come mean­ing­ful – with what we pro­duce here now con­sid­ered by the ex­perts to be just as good as that pro­duced in Cham­pagne. Tas­ma­nian cher­ries in Hong Kong, mean­while, can sell for $100 per kilo­gram. One hun­dred dol­lars! Tas­ma­nia is the Switzer­land of the south? You bet. Let’s own it.

So per­haps Fu­ture Tas­ma­nia is less about be­ing them and more about be­ing us. To be Tas­ma­nian means some­thing. And that mean­ing is an in­creas­ingly valu­able com­mod­ity. Let’s never lose it.

But let’s also be will­ing to learn. De­mog­ra­pher Bernard Salt sug­gests we see what les­sons we can take from places like Ice­land, New Zealand’s South Is­land and the Cana­dian prov­inces of New­found­land and Nova Sco­tia – places that have sim­i­lar de­mo­graphic and ge­o­graphic fea­tures. Mr Salt sug­gests: “Tas­ma­nia should be bench­mark­ing it­self with those prov­inces and com­par­ing how they op­er­ate, what in­fra­struc­ture they have been able to lever­age. Tas­ma­nia (also) needs to be con­nect­ing with like-minded com­mu­ni­ties that have the same chal­lenges, but have over­come those chal­lenges.” But, we would add, to do all this our way.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for all ed­i­to­rial com­ment is taken by the Ed­i­tor, Chris Jones, Level 1, 2 Sala­manca Square, Ho­bart, TAS, 7000

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