Doom and gloom will delay state's boom

FAT, lazy, smoke and drink too much, deliberately undereducate ourselves, dependent on welfare ...

Whoops, looks like the cover's blown on so many Tasmanians' lifestyle choices.

Based on the just-published GriffithReview 39, entitled Tasmania - The Tipping Point, that is.

So how are we supposed to react to that sort of apparent condemnation?

Hobart academic Natasha Cica has an answer in the review - she reckons we need to get out more.

She says that we should all spend a slice of our lives "earning a living offshore".

She doesn't get too specific here - would that be on the other side of Bass Strait or overseas, Natasha?

Either way, she says Tasmanians would benefit from being away from family, government subsidy and "exemption from the kind of checks and balances that apply in larger ponds".

"To stand up more effectively to the Little Britain-ish `computer says no' attitude that's prevalent here, which can squash innovation with all the charm of a Soviet department store," vividly explains Ms Cica, the University of Tasmania's Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society's director.

A cold shower, a reality check, no less.

Right on, Natasha, even if your own job is a very Tasmanian gig with a foggy job description of advancing the uni's "community engagement and thought leadership agenda".

Trouble is getting off the island what with fellow GriffithReview39 contributor Professor Jonathon West pointing out that Tasmanians earn less moolah than any other Australians.

That's not all, of course.

"Tasmania ranks at the bottom among Australian states on virtually every dimension of economic, social and cultural performance: highest unemployment, lowest literacy, most chronic disease, poorest longevity, most likely to smoke, greatest obesity, highest petty crime, worst domestic violence," Professor West says.

The list goes on but, hey, come on, prof, it can't be all that bad, can it?

Oh, I see, it is, judged by 262 pages of somewhat depressing information.

Professor West, for example, somewhat resignedly points out that Tasmanians won't change because they "don't really want to".

That especially applies to knowledge with many Taswegian parents not being too keen on their kids gettin' too much edukashion 'cos then they'll fly the coop.

Then there's those dreaded mainlanders (who we don't really like that much) keeping us in pensions, benefits and public service jobs, what with there being too small a small tax base to support ourselves.

Funny thing, really, now that Australia's resources boom allows (according to Professor West) "the government to pay an ever- expanding proportion of the population not to work".

And guess what? We're cool with that.

Mind you, this high-level ritual hand-wringing has always been with us.

Gracious, and not by nature subject to self-criticism, here we are finding fault with ourselves.

Sometimes one is entitled to wonder why, when Tassie once had it all together, it can't be done again in some other way.

Remember all those gigantic hydro-electric schemes which, it was correctly believed, had a knock-on effect of providing cheap electricity for heavy industry?

That worked until the concept of large foundries, and high export prices, saw it go pear-shaped.

Now gloom, and possibly doom, are Tassie bywords.

A progress ban was politically institutionalised with the entry of the Greens who, although they appear determined to destroy the state's timber, mining and fishing industries, promise a bright future of boutique job creation schemes - or something.

We leave the last review word to academic Lea McInerney, who lived in Tassie for a while then moved to Melbourne.

After banging on a bit about "the smart move of setting up the forest peace talks", Dr McInerney says: "One day, I like to think, Tasmania will do something truly bold."

Don't get your hopes up, Lea.


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