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

Economy

Education, productivity and economic performance: Tasmania, then, now and tomorrow

First published 8pm, March 16

I want to thank the members of the Committee of the Launceston Historical Society for inviting me to give this, the 29th John West Memorial Lecture. When I look over the list of distinguished historians, scientists, writers and public figures who have stood in this place before me, it is an honour to be numbered among them, and I can but hope that I will do justice to them, as well as to the memory of John West

John West was, as you all know, a major figure in the life of Launceston, and of Van Diemen’s Land (as Tasmania was then known), between 1839 and 1854: and from then until 1873 in the life of Sydney.
He came to Van Diemen’s Land under the auspices of the Colonial Missionary Society, in December 1838. The Society’s intention, apparently, was that he should spread the Congregationalist message among people living outside the colony’s major population centres. However, he rejected the idea of being “relegated to the bush”, a fate he regarded as “incompatible with his family claims” (he and his wife Narcissa had five children). And although there was already a Congregational Church in Launceston, he decided to set up another one, meeting initially in an infants’ school building in Frederick Street, but from August 1842 at a then newly-constructed chapel on St John’s Square.

Among West’s flock were James Aikenhead and Jonathon Waddell, the founders of the Launceston Examiner, whose first edition was published on 12th March 1842. Sir Raymond Ferrall, after whom this Lecture Theatre was named, recounts that “there is no doubt whatever that when the paper was launched … the Rev. John West … was in the editorial chair”.

West was therefore in all likelihood the author of The Examiner’s first editorial, which asserted that the press was “the shield of the people … a tribunal before whom the best of rulers and the worst of despots tremble”. These words carry an especial resonance today, when the person now occupying the office of what we once called ‘the leader of the free world’ regards an independent and critical media not as the “shield” but rather as “the enemy of the people”, an expression previously used by despots and tyrants such as Robespierre, Lenin, Goebbels and Stalin …

However, we won’t be able to achieve any of those things if we can’t achieve higher levels of educational participation and attainment. Indeed, if we don’t achieve significantly higher levels of educational participation and attainment than we have at present, the rapid ageing of our population will inevitably mean that Tasmanian living standards will continue to decline, relative to those of the rest of Australia. In the final paragraph of his History of Tasmania, John West wrote that “the happiness and prosperity of the people is by Divine Providence within their power”

He went on to warn of dire consequences if ‘the people’ were to fall short of his high expectations in any number of ways, including “neglect[ing] the education of the rising generation”. I don’t think it is within our power (or within that of ‘Divine Providence’) to turn Tasmania into a smaller version of Sydney or Melbourne. And I don’t think that’s what the people of Tasmania want.

But I do think a majority of Tasmania’s people want a higher standard of living than they have at the moment: and they want to believe that their descendants can also aspire to higher standards of living, without having to spend all of their lives somewhere else in order to attain that goal.

As West might have said, it is within our power to achieve that.

Read more, Download here …
2017-03-16_John_West_Memorial_Lecture.pdf

*Saul Eslake is an Independent Economist, and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Tasmania. The lecture was in the Sir Raymond Ferrall Lecture Theatre, University of Tasmania, Newnham Campus

Examiner: Saul Eslake presents 2017 Launceston Historical Society John West Memorial Lecture

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

17 Comments

  1. Brenda Rosser

    March 28, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Re: “I do think a majority of Tasmania’s people want a higher standard of living than they have at the moment: and they want to believe that their descendants can also aspire to higher standards of living, without having to spend all of their lives somewhere else in order to attain that goal. As West might have said, it is within our power to achieve that.”

    The trouble with the now irrelevant doctrine of so-called ‘mainstream’ economists is that they have never defined what “a higher standard of living” entails apart from consumption of more and more objects and services.

    In the absence of professional common sense and rationality I put forward a logical definition: A higher standard of living means that we no longer have to fear near term human extinction from runaway climate catastrophe, or wait for the next mega-fire or cyclone to hit. A higher standard of living means we can work outside of our domestic sphere much less and this would mean we can spend more time with family and friends and eat the wholesome organic food that we have time to grow. It means we have a much wider pool of skills and an intellect freed from dogma of all types. This would allow for genuine small-scale truly sustainable development locally. All levels of government would act with integrity and honesty and we would all be willing to sacrifice something today for the future well being of our children and grandchildren.

  2. Steve

    March 18, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    #14; Mike, would it be too much to ask that you sacrifice your principles and adopt capitals and normal punctuation? After all, part of this thread is about education?
    Your short posts I either ignore, or slog through if I’m interested, but with your longer posts, you’ve obviously got something to say but I’m not reading it. Why not put it into the language the rest of us use? I’m quite sure you’re capable of using the shift key!

  3. Claire Gilmour

    March 18, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Who are the ultimate educators of children? Kids learn the ‘rote’ stuff at school, but much of their real education comes from their parents, family, friends, peers.
    When the patriarch (or matriarch) says consistently this is how the world works … this is how you must be to survive … then kids mostly follow (but thankfully not always), regardless of school teaching.
    When the parents are influenced so much by political, banks and media machinations it obviously often filters down to the kids. And on and on it goes … the continued bullying … it becomes like a built in genetic memory. Ie whales stopped going to many of their feeding grounds for generations because they were killed. It took many generations after the killing stopped before whales dared venture back into those waters. A mammalian species … a memory species! That’s us humans too!
    Here we have Trump ignoring Merkel, refusing to shake hands … obviously Trump doesn’t like bright, fair, intelligent women!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-19/trump-says-us-must-be-paid-more-to-defend-germany/8367100

    It’s generational schooling … the education system should not put kids into boxes … lower their educational standards and ultimately put them into certain peer groups just because they are or not deemed very good at one area of the education system.

    Economists generally don’t make the grade of artists … Unless they invest in the dead artist …
    So who is really making the world go round?

  4. Claire Gilmour

    March 18, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Who are the ultimate educators of children? Kids learn the ‘rote’ stuff at school, but much of their real education comes from their parents, family, friends, peers.

    When the patriarch (or matriarch) says consistently this is how the world works … this is how you must be to survive … then kids mostly follow (but thankfully not always), regardless of school teaching.

    When the parents are influenced so much by political, banks and media machinations it obviously often filters down to the kids. And on and on it goes … the continued bullying … it becomes like a built in genetic memory.

    Ie whales stopped going to many of their feeding grounds for generations because they were killed. It took many generations after the killing stopped before whales dared venture back into those waters. A mammalian species … a memory species! That’s us humans too!

    Here we have Trump ignoring Merkel, refusing to shake hands … obviously Trump doesn’t like bright, fair, intelligent women!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-19/trump-says-us-must-be-paid-more-to-defend-germany/8367100

    It’s generational schooling … the education system should not put kids into boxes … lower their educational standards and ultimately put them into certain peer groups just because they are or not deemed very good at one area of the education system.

    Economists generally don’t make the grade of artists … Unless they invest in the dead artist …

    So who is really making the world go round?

  5. mike seabrook

    March 18, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    what is tassies comparative advantage in australia and the world today.

    is it to remain a dependancy subsisting on scraps from the feds as compensation for the island having to cope with inappropriate interest rate and exchange rate and other settings ( set for sydney/melbourne) and all the regulatory restrictions imposed from centrally.

    tassie got its great boost in 1808 from when the british government decided to shut down the then unviable norfolk island settlement and encourage (bribe) the norfolk island settlors to move to tassie

    as a convict colony until the 1850s the british government massively funded the island and there was the industrial revolution, (canals, railways), wealth generated in that period from whaling and sheep/wool and from being the base (launceston area) for settling of australia felix, melbourne, portland vic and south australia plus a small boost from the depopulating of the swan river colony (perth).

    then there was the 1840s depression years brought about by overspeculation and the brits withdrawing whatever funding that they could recover

    the 1850s there was a spin-off for tassie from resourcing the gold rush in melbourne and its near hinterland, in the 1860s-1870s similarly the nz gold rush years and also in the 1880s a spinoff from the marvelous melbourne decade( technology and massive speculation) and the railway age and other developments until the banks went bust in 1891.
    and then there was

    the boer war, federation and the ww1, ww2 and korean wars in the 1900s, 1930s world wide depression, tassies hydro electric industrialisation,electricity, gas pipelines, planes, cars, telecommunications,public health and medicine and pharmaceutical advances, internet, computers, britain entering the common market,9/11 and the after events continuing today, and the stirring of the asian markets when china woke up from its madness stupor,

    and now the fast moving disruptive times of technological and other changes – internet, market disruptions, brexit and trump and people movements and capital flight in and out and the status quo of central banks, nation states and political systems being reconsidered

  6. Chris

    March 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Get ya head out of your iphone and look to where you are going.
    Will smiler, Barmy by name if not by nature convince me that NOT ONE $ will be given, granted, loaned or otherwise transferred to that timber company to enable Forestry Tasmania to sell old growth logs to Australian Sustainable Hardwoods, (wots in a name) without one $ being spent on infrastructure, hands up all who recall the upgrades to highways via Tea Tree to Triabunna,
    Barnett’s Royal Commission did not reveal the amount spent on behalf of Gunns on those roads because they came out of a different (corrupt) budget allocation.
    Now we hear similar words (weasel type) that there will be no money for Forestry…….
    Pull the other one, why enter into discussions with a private firm, is there a firm commitment to grant, donate or transfer funds or assets to a private firm?
    Answer me Barnett….
    .
    .
    .
    Waiting
    .
    Oh yeah its a Green plot……….other words of BS.

  7. john hayward

    March 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Before taking solace in the Tas Govt’s need for FSC certification, remember that they have previously suggested they could skirt that problem by selling the harvest to China.

    As ever, any resulting losses are solely the public’s.

    John Hayward

  8. Steve

    March 18, 2017 at 12:12 am

    #6; Have to agree with this comment. Statistically Tasmanians may be suffering from poor living standards but look about you? Yep, we’re all doing it tough! I travel widely and am always glad to get home.
    Realistically, if a child can read, write and do basic sums, they’re equipped for life. They are the equal of many (most?) of our leaders and most people require nothing more. How is it that so many of our population have not managed these basic achievements?

  9. Basil Fitch

    March 17, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    #8 re last para – the people of Tas.urgently need a’ Miles Hampton Stat Dec.’, to inform us on this Forestry GBE’s whys and wherefores. Nothing is adding up (has it ever with Forestry?), someone besides Guy Barnett has info that needs to be made public.

    No-one is believing their present dialogue.

    Tassie’s own forestry Industry body wants no part of it, yet Libs are supposedly wooing this Vic. co. at Heyfield to Tas. At a loss of some 260 workers direct and some 7,000 flow on jobs as it supplies many big Vic. stores including Bunnings, (today’s Herald Sun).

    With this Vic. mill stating they’ll need, some
    130,000 cubic metres, at least!! Appears the battle lines are once again being drawn. Basil

  10. john hayward

    March 17, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Re #1. I was not implying that our LibLabs’ own educational deficiencies were responsible for their appalling performance, but rather those of the electorate that repeatedly votes them in.

    Today’s Age announced that Victoria’s Australian Sustainable Hardwoods at Heyfield was closing down and looking to shift to Tasmania after the Vic Govt declared its timber reserves, in a state forest twice the size of Tasmania’s, had been too depleted to permit a harvest of more than 60,000cm p.a.. The sheer physical impossibilities and threatened species belatedly limiting logging quotas in Vic are simply not recognised by our LibLabs.

    John Hayward

  11. Simon Warriner

    March 17, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    re 6, a minor edit, if I might.

    It is long past time…….no child progress up a grade until benchmark levels….

    Allowing it damages not only the child but its peers as well in a cumulative manner.

    However PC attitudes reign supreme in the education industry and there is no return of faulty product rule.

  12. Philip

    March 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    A higher standard of living. An economist’s view on this might be why we are heading to environmental hell. Tasmanians have one of the best standards of living on the planet but many of the measures will never fit a GDP survey. It is time for the government to insist that no child can progress to high school without competent levels of reading and writing and for additional learning provision for those who can’t.

  13. Simon Warriner

    March 17, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Without reading the lecture, which I will get around to, the following observation about education in general needs to be made.

    It is declining in efficacy all across the Western world, and it’s decline can be traced back to the academics who keep trying to reinvent a perfectly good wheel. Why that is so is a question of knaves or fools and the witlessness of worshipping the god of progress in the face of mounting evidence that the prize is not worth the price.

    We need independent, intelligent minds in government who are prepared to question such attitudes and weigh them and their costs against past methods and the common good.

    How to get those independent, intelligent minds into government is where the improvements will come from.

  14. Claire Gilmour

    March 17, 2017 at 12:44 am

    How do you sell that to mostly ignorant parliamentarians, let alone to an often big business controlled media, both who mostly want to keep the people ‘dumbed’ down? Let alone the majority of actual people who too seemingly often, ‘scarily’ seem to prefer ‘war’ – in whatever fashion, to pride in themselves?

    The facts of now, the hope of the past may all well and good be there … but HOW do we actually change it for the better in the now?

    Seems to me education of politicians and some of the media is the first cab of the rank to allow education of the children of the future.

    But one could also ask … what is education?

    If one is educated in a system of rule in ones time without being given free will to think outside the square, it is simply indoctrination.

    What is society educating for?

    What is a ‘higher’ standard of living?

    Money? Hope? Further Indoctrination? God/religion? The world/universe ? Well being? Love? The ultimate meaning of life?

    Could our education system be more expansive?

    How can life skills be more incorporated in education?

    We currently have the best, currently available, world wide education system on our door step …

    It’s called HELLO world … nice to meet you … what can you teach me?

  15. Steve

    March 16, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    This is a seriously interesting lecture and deserves to be read in it’s entirety.

    Needless to say I don’t agree with many of the statistic based conclusions but it deserves serious debate.

    I’m simply too busy supporting my below average family to drive the discussion!

  16. Andrew Ricketts

    March 16, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    A useful if incomplete snapshot of the problem.

    Education is not sufficiently valued in Tasmania.

    Eslake has been talking about these sort of issues for quite a while.

    John, (Post #1) how could you possibly send them back to school and have them in parliament all at the same time?

  17. john hayward

    March 16, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    There is one sector of Tasmanian society that is critically dependent on a lack of education – our LibLabs. How else could they feed their bottomless appetite for woodchip and pokie revenue ?

    John Hayward

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