State needs 'tough love'

TASMANIA needs a full-blown review of its economy ``with a real blowtorch'', according to multi-millionaire businessman Robert Rockefeller, who fronted a public hearing of the Productivity Commission in Hobart yesterday.

Mr Rockefeller told the Tasmanian Shipping and Freight Inquiry that the state did not understand its economic problems, let alone know how to deal with them.

``More money into Tasmania just doesn't work,'' he said.

Mr Rockefeller had a long list of complaints, pointing the finger at local governments, which he said were the ``biggest waste organisations in the state'' and ``don't have any interest in the long-term benefit of Tasmania''.

He said water and sewerage charges were ``unacceptable'' and management ``couldn't care less for the poor person''.

He also singled out the Aurora pay-as-you-go system, labelling it ``abhorrent'.

Mr Rockefeller owns numerous corporate and commercial properties in Tasmania, and runs family company Nekon Pty Ltd. 

Last November he sold seven shopping centres for $145 million, in one of the biggest real estate deals in Tasmanian history.

Mr Rockefeller said the federal government should fund micro-economic reform, which would result in hundreds of millions of savings a year.

``We need to do the tough love. But to do so, we need a carrot and a great big stick,'' he said.

Mr Rockefeller also said government services should be provided at the lowest possible cost.

``No one is there for Tasmania and no one looks out for the best interests of Tasmania,'' Mr Rockefeller said.

``If Tasmania did it right and were intelligent about the way they did business, there is enormous opportunity,'' he said.

``We've got to get hungry.''

The federal government requested the Productivity Commission examine the high cost and challenges of Bass Strait shipping.

Houston's Farm chief financial officer David Nelan also appeared before the inquiry, and expressed frustration with shipping his salad products out of the state.

Mr Nelan told the inquiry he could not get his product off the island on a Sunday, and deemed it ``anti-competitive'', and that there was increased pressure from major customers on the mainland for freshness.

``There is no room for us to pay above the odds,'' Mr Nelan said.

The Productivity Commission inquiry hearings continue tomorrow in Launceston.

Its final report is due early March.

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