Bright future if we want it A
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.
OUR ISLAND INCREASINGLY STANDS LIKE A BEACON IN A WORLD THAT IS INCREASINGLY BEIGE. TASMANIA THEN IS ON THE CUSP OF SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL.
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