Bright fu­ture if we want it A

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS -

S A Mel­bourne-based de­mog­ra­pher, Bernard Salt cer­tainly doesn’t have all the an­swers for what Tas­ma­ni­ans should be fo­cus­ing on to en­sure a pros­per­ous next decade. But he does have some pretty in­ter­est­ing ideas, as he out­lines to­day on pages 18-19 — and that he did in his speech to the Fu­ture Tas­ma­nia lunch on Thurs­day, that you can watch a re­play of on our web­site.

Per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing is Mr Salt’s idea for a “mini-me OECD” com­prised of small states in big fed­er­a­tions. Think of Amer­ica’s Hawaii (0.5 per cent of the US pop­u­la­tion) or Alaska (0.25 per cent) — or New­found­land (1.4 per cent of Canada’s pop­u­la­tion). Or how about Saar­land, the smallest Ger­man state and home to 1.2 per cent of that na­tion’s pop­u­la­tion. Think about the sim­i­lar­i­ties all three prov­inces would have with Tas­ma­nia, home to 2 per cent of Aus­tralians. Surely the chal­lenges — and op­por­tu­ni­ties — th­ese states have as the ba­bies in first-world fed­er­a­tions would be re­mark­ably sim­i­lar. Per­haps in­stead of trade mis­sions to China, our politi­cians and busi­ness lead­ers could learn more vis­it­ing th­ese type of places.

Or to take Mr Salt’s idea, per­haps there should be a for­mal or­gan­i­sa­tion of th­ese states es­tab­lished, with reg­u­lar meet­ings to dis­cuss the is­sues that surely trou­ble us all — like the loss of our youth to the big­ger states, or the dif­fi­culty in get­ting the at­ten­tion of our na­tional cap­i­tals when we have so few votes to be won.


Or, as Mr Salt writes to­day, “at the very least have the Premier and/or some min­is­ters drop in to their coun­ter­parts in th­ese prov­inces for in­for­mal dis­cus­sions next time they’re on a fact-find­ing mis­sion to the US or the UK.” There is strength and power, Mr Salt cor­rectly ob­serves, “in con­nect­ing with like­minded in­di­vid­u­als”. That’s true in any en­deav­our.

And so this idea of Tas­ma­nia be­ing the one to breathe life into this for­mal or­gan­i­sa­tion of small states in fed­er­a­tions will be firmly on the list of the Ac­tion Plan we will pub­lish at the con­clu­sion of our Fu­ture Tas­ma­nia se­ries in a week from to­day. We are now halfway through our two-week se­ries, and the feed­back has been se­ri­ously pos­i­tive. There is real value in tak­ing a breather ev­ery now and then from the chaos of the ev­ery­day to re­flect on where we should be head­ing. That is what Fu­ture Tas­ma­nia is all about.

Mr Salt is an out­sider. But he has cor­rectly dis­cerned through the de­tailed body of work his or­gan­i­sa­tion has done after be­ing com­mis­sioned by the Mer­cury for this se­ries that Tas­ma­nia is on the cusp of some­thing very spe­cial. The world wants what we have, and what we grow, and what we make. But we all need to be work­ing to­gether on how our lit­tle is­land can reach its full po­ten­tial. Be­cause it will not hap­pen by chance.

And that was the chal­lenge Mr Salt gave the 200 Tas­ma­ni­ans who turned up to lis­ten to him at Wrest Point on Thurs­day: to be en­gaged mem­bers of this com­mu­nity as we work through how to make the most of the unique op­por­tu­nity of a time when our is­land stands like a bea­con of dif­fer­ence in a world that is in­creas­ingly beige. And so to para­phrase Mr Salt, what is it that each of us is do­ing to be­queath an even bet­ter Tas­ma­nia to the next gen­er­a­tion of Tas­ma­ni­ans?

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

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