*Pic: Left off the map … Leo Schofield’s pic of a mushroom … minus the Tassie appendange …
SOMEONE’S not pulling their weight, it has been obvious for a while now.
They have been trying to hide out down in the Southern Ocean and yes, it worked for quite a while. But eventually, people are going to take notice.
Tasmania, the game is up.
New population figures have made it clear: Tasmania is about as popular as Dick Smith before the clearance sales. Population growth barely snuck upwards in the past year, even though population growth nationwide is perfectly healthy.
The reason why is pretty simple. It’s a rough place to find a job. Tassie may be beautiful but you don’t quite get to experience the full charm from inside a Centrelink office.
So, if they’re not at work, what are all those Tasmanians up to? I don’t know exactly but you can rule out one thing …
The birthrate is tiny. It can barely keep up with the death rate. Natural population increase fell to a record low in the last three months.
This lack of reproduction is mostly because Tasmania is old. Basically the state is full of retirees. It is therefore not a major surprise that the rest of Australia subsidises Tasmania, just a tiny wee bit.
SHOVELLING FREE MONEY ONTO A BOAT HEADING SOUTH
The southernmost state has 2.2 per cent of the population, but we sent them 3.6 per cent of the GST collected in the whole country in 2014-15. A tidy little bonus. (By contrast, WA has 11 per cent of the population but got back 4 per cent of GST in that same year.)
We also pay big bickies to fund shipping to Tasmania. The very fair-sounding Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme means we spent $130 million in 2011-12, or more than $200 per Tasmanian, subsidising ships to puff their way back and forth across Bass Strait.
A MAP WITH NO TASSIE?
So, should we just cut Tasmania off? (Bonus: Many maps of Australia wouldn’t even have to be redrawn!)
Maybe NZ would like another island to add to their collection?
Getting kicked out may just be the exact sort of tough love Tasmania needs. What if being stuck with the rest of Australia has been holding Tassie back?
If Tassie had its own currency, it could set its own exchange rate. That could really help its economy. We’d have to change our Aussie dollars into the Tasmanian currency (I like to imagine it would be called the Boonie), and have a little jaunt down there on the cheap. It’d be easier for them to export and companies would be more likely to set up shop there.
Of course, all this eviction talk is just jokes, idle speculation, whimsy.
Australia is one big family. Even if we get frustrated at Tasmania, like a little brother that won’t stop mucking round, we are, in the end, all in this together.
And Tassie does have a future. In fact it is well placed for two big trends. One is in tourism. Which is going berserk right now as Chinese visitors come in droves. And the other one is fancy artisanal food and value-added milk powders, etc.
*Jason Murphy is an economist. He publishes the blog Thomas The Thinkengine ( HERE ). Follow Jason on Twitter @Jasemurphy