Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


The passenger on Team Australia: Is it time to cut Tassie loose?

*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.


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.


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.

Read the full opinion piece, The Advertiser HERE, where there are full hyperlinks and a graph …

*Jason Murphy is an economist. He publishes the blog Thomas The Thinkengine ( HERE ). Follow Jason on Twitter @Jasemurphy

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Garry Stannus

    March 30, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks Lindsay (‘Editor Emeritus’) for showing us how those northern suburb (Melbourne) wallahs think. Gees … you’d reckon he’s a mate of Bjelke Joh Petersen’s. That fellah wanted us to secede … now this bloke wants to kick us out. In my opinion, he should take a running jump. I class his ‘article’ as undergraduate, replete with cheap shots and racy slurs. I usually provide examples, to back up my opinions, but this one is just not worth it. I hope I don’t run in to him anywhere soon. North Fitzroy? … I knew it well enough, once. Is that the sort of bloke that lives there now?

  2. phill Parsons

    March 30, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Of course there are the Pacific island and African examples where poor economies look to a new benefactor when the aid dries up. Ne hao [knee how], Chinese for hello.

  3. Nicholas Gilbert

    March 29, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Well said Rick{4}. Look no further than countries such as Sweden,Norway and Japan with stable PG rates yet advanced and successful economies. More importantly they rank highly on quality of life measures with high education standards.This is where Tassie fails. To paraphrase Costello “Have one less child for the planet” and concentrate on quality outcomes.

  4. Rick

    March 29, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Again we see an economist linking success to how many people live in a place. The world needs less people, not more. The entire issue is that our whole system of government relies on each generation having more people than the one before it, to pay for ‘stuff’.

    As the world heads towards more dramatic climate matters, adding more and more people is the last thing we need.

    If Tasmania’s population growth is slower or declining then that should be applauded, not denigrated.

    Our politicians, economists and more, need to undo their learning and think smarter, Population growth should never be used as an indicator of success.

  5. mike seabrook

    March 29, 2016 at 12:34 am

    a bit of global warming on the mainland and if tassie were a bit warmer, the hoards may move south and follow a few mainlanders who sojourne in tassie for a few months in the tassie summer

  6. Leonard Colquhoun

    March 28, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    One day, an Australian federal government might do on Tasmania the sort of job which Roman emperor Honorius did on his empire’s far away island of Britannia in 410 CE – Brexit.

    Due to a worsening international situation (including ‘climate change’ – the almost totally unexpected freezing of the river Rhine in the winter of 406/07, and uncontrollable unauthorised immigration), Honorius decided that Britannia was too expensive to maintain and defend, and withdrew administrative, financial and military resources to his ‘mainland’.

    Minus their massive subsidies, the Roman-British wasted lots of energy in Tassie-style north v south argy-bargy instead of defending their island whatever the cost might have been. In particular, they belted the crap out of each other rather than making decisions about which Germanic boat-folk entered their country and the circumstances in which they came. They even invited some of these Volk in as hired muscle. You don’t need an IQ much above the urban speed limit to work out how that worked out – bye-bye, Celtic Britannia, hallo Germanic Anglosaxonland.

    To make the similarities even more complete, some of the British Celts themselves got on boats (wonder if they picked them up second-hand from some Germanic people-trafficker) and crossed the Fretum Gallicum (now the English Channel) to set themselves up as refugees in the pointy bit of NW France which is now ‘Brittany’.

    Wonder whether Victoria’s pointy bit known as Wilsons Prom will become ‘Tasmanny’?

    (You read this here first.)

  7. Peter

    March 28, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Smurf1976 posted this on whirlpool referring to the article about Tasmania as a basket case.

    He reckoned Tasmania used to pull its weight contributing to the national economy, but became a victim of national policies that disadvantaged manufacturing.

    QUOTE: ‘APPM Burnie, Tioxide, NW Acid, APPM Wesley Vale, Wander, Coats Paton, Southern Aluminium, Stanley, ACI, Blundstone, Electrona carbide, APM Port Huon and others. All employed huge numbers in their heyday and all completely gone now due to *national* economic policies which have favoured resource extraction over manufacturing.’

    ‘I (Smurf1976) do agree that Tas (and SA) needs to do whatever it can to boost itself economically but it’s going to be a serious struggle so long as Australia continues to focus heavily on digging things up.’


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