Now that the Federal budget has been handed down, it would appear that the GST coming back to Tasmania will have a short fall of about $540 million dollars. For a State facing bankruptcy this is disastrous – or so a normal person would consider. But politicians and governments do not live in the land of normality. According to the Tasmanian Premier, Lara Giddings, it is nothing to worry about. Perhaps it is we who live in La La Land and not them. Maybe they are far wiser than we; maybe they know a lot more. Perhaps they have a magic wand up their sleeve to right everything. The problem is, no wand is appearing; indeed the island State now has the highest unemployment rate in the country. The other problem is there is no light on the horizon. The State’s industry relies on tourism (which is very fickle), a struggling primary industry and mining. Gidding’s government with her forestry “agreement” has virtually destroyed it. This was her effort to appease the Greens.
Mere mortal such as myself may shake our heads in wonderment about the mediocrity of it all, but Nero still fiddles while Rome burns. The fact is that there is a lack of leadership and ineptness. The influence of the Greens is astounding. The retirement of Bob Brown and his replacement by Mr Whish-Wilson a wine grower from the north of the island will change nothing. One would be forgiven to catalogue him as one of the “chardonnay drinking socialist set”.
The fact of the matter is federation has not been kind to Tasmania. Every year we go cap in hand to Canberra and this year, even though the central government is Labour, it looks like that the cap will almost be empty. From 1856, the year we enjoyed Responsible Government until federation 1901, Tasmania was a prosperous colony, enjoying one of the highest living standards in the world. True there was the 1896 economic collapse, followed by a depression, but every Australian colony experienced this. Up until Federation, we had organised our own telegraphic service, rail service¸ bustling cities, such as Hobart and Launceston, particularly the latter because of mining, a thriving apple and small fruit industry, and a buoyant mining and farming industry. We had our own immigration, custom, postal and defence service. The most beautiful and outstanding buildings were constructed during this period. When federation came, because of free trade in particular, we could have collapsed economically if not for gambling. George Adams, the founder of the Tatts ticket, was invited to Tasmania after being kicked out of the eastern States because of the anti-gambling lobby to set up his business in the island. From Tasmania he conducted his operation, providing the Tasmanian Government with much needed revenue to off-set the down turn of finance. Tasmania lost the Tattersall’s business in 1954, when Victoria enticed the operation to that State, much to the chagrin of Tasmania. Ever since we have been a poor sister of the federation, whereas in actual fact we are a rich state.
The problem is, we have been woefully governed.