A few of Canberra's jobs would go a long way here

HERE'S a New Year's resolution to knock your socks off.

It could solve our unemployment woes in a flash. No seed funding, no environmental impact statements, no protest movement, no state or local government involvement. A no brainer.

Three men are the key. The three amigos. They can make it happen.

All our three Liberal MHRs Andrew Nikolic, Eric Hutchinson and Brett Whiteley have to do is convince one man in Canberra, their boss, to make it happen, and, he's already promised to consider it.

Tasmania hosts 2.3 per cent of our national public services and less than 1 per cent of our Defence Force jobs.

We're an obvious sitter for this resolution. Half the state is protected from development. About 44 per cent of Tasmanians receive some form of welfare and 32 per cent of Tasmanians have Centrelink payments as their principal source of income. Nationally it's 26 per cent.

So, we are to some extent a giant national park on welfare, as observed by Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett. This condition is not easily remedied and takes time to fix. It took investors more than a decade to return after the 1989 Wesley Vale pulp mill debacle, and that was a locally based protest campaign.

It will take much longer for our reputation to be repaired, after the carefully orchestrated and sophisticated overseas environmental campaign against our timber companies.

Investors are blind to the resource. They just want a certain future for their investment dollar. It's called sovereign risk, and now far too risky in Tasmania.

Almost 10,000 full-time Tasmanian jobs have vanished since 2010. Neither the conservation movement nor the major parties have come up with reliable ways to replace them, except for glib statements about being open for business. That the Greens have no substantial remedy is disgraceful.

A perfectly reliable remedy is to transfer Commonwealth functions to Tasmania. An instant solution. Why does Canberra need 40 per cent of the Commonwealth public servants on offer, and together with NSW almost 60 per cent.?

Why does Canberra need 33,000 Defence Force jobs, both uniform and civilian. Canberra is not strategically placed. It just happens to be a former sheep paddock, hosting our national Parliament.

In this digital era of super technology it is pure laziness to assume that Canberra should be the hub of the public service.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has about 5200 jobs nationwide. It's head office would be a natural for Hobart, Launceston or Devonport.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has 112, the Australian Communications Management Authority has 532, the National Archives 397 jobs, AusAid 1624 and ComSuper 450 jobs. None of them are location specific, that is, tied to a geographical area.

There are about 50 government agencies, some of which could be relocated to Tasmania. We're talking about 225,000 public service and defence jobs nationally, and all we need is about 10,000 or more.

That's about 4 per cent of the total, or a little more than our population share.

Given the financial sacrifice Tasmanians have made for the sake of the environment and other debilitating factors like our island disadvantages, a few administrative jobs and services taken out of pampered places like Canberra would be a drop in their ocean.

Over to you amigos.

Barry Prismall is deputy editor of The Examiner.

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