"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

Big Ideas for Tasmania’s future

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Anna Bateman* Pic: of Saul Eslake
29.03.18 5:49 am

Today at midday, The Australia Institute Tasmania will launch a new initiative cheekily titled #WTF2050 – What’s Tasmania’s Future?

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There’s certainly some good news in this year’s Tasmania Report ...

Saul Eslake* Pic: of Saul Eslake
13.12.17 9:30 am

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The TCCI Tasmania Report 2017: Executive Summary Tasmania’s economy is about $4¼bn (or 8¼%) larger than previously reckoned, because of revisions to the ABS estimates of gross state product which were included in their most recent State Accounts published last month. These revisions stem largely from the fact that the ABS now thinks the Tasmanian economy grew faster than previously reckoned between 2003-04 and 2012-13 …

Cassy O’Connor: Greens the only party with vision The social and economic challenges laid out in the Tasmania Report reinforce the need for courage and vision from all political parties contesting the 2018 State election …

Labor: Tasmania Report forces Government to confront reality on colleges

Will Hodgman: Response to the Tasmania Report

Examiner: Saul Eslake’s Tasmania Report critique sparks debate on future of colleges in Tasmania

Examiner: Saul Eslake says Tasmanian Government should sell off some of its companies

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25 comments

The Quest for Security: Is it rational? has it actually made us safer? At what cost?

Saul Eslake*
22.11.17 2:40 am

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Download address to the Royal Society of Tasmania, by Saul Eslake, Independent Economist, and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Tasmania, Government House, Hobart, 14th November 2017 … 

• Anthony John in Comments: I have long considered Saul Eslake the State’s pre-eminent Economist; and arguably, the Nation’s also. It was with great interest therefore that I read his presentation on a such an important subject, demonstrating his considerable intellect and analytical skills.It should be of great concern to us all whenever a government seeks to employ the bogy of public security ( exagerating the threat) in order to justify greatly increased expenditure on security apparatus;and reducing individual liberty.It is legitimate to question whether it has made us safer, and whether the magnitude of the costs incurred can rationally be justified. In my view, they cannot. Thank you Mr Eslake for being brave enough to raise this matter for public debate - a debate well worth having!

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

Saul Eslake*
19.03.17 4:30 am

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The 29th John West Memorial Lecture. Hosted by the Launceston Historical Society 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 …

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

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Saul Eslake’s Tasmania Report ...

Saul Eslake* Pic* First published December 14
21.12.16 3:15 am

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Poorer, sicker, older, the least employed and at risk of falling further behind ... That is the conclusion of eminent economist Saul Eslake. Download and read for yourself his analysis here ...

Download The Eslake Report: HERE

ABC: Tasmanian economy risks falling further behind, economist Saul Eslake warns

Bryan Green: Tasmania Report needs to jolt do-nothing government into gear

ABC: Royal Hobart Hospital rated as ‘third world’

Peter Gutwein: Tasmania Report

• Gordon Bradbury in Comments: … For all of Mr Eslake’s hard work and obvious devotion to Tasmania I can safely say that we need much more than “belief”. Meaningful, directed change will not happen in Tasmania under the current State/Federal political system. The days of purposeful public administration are over. But let me say Mr Eslake has done a superb job. The report is concise and easy to read. Section 8 “Looking Forward” makes for particularly good reading, especially the discussion around “change” and Tasmania’s incredible resistance to it …

• Leonard Colquhoun in Comments: Rather than the causes (rather absurdly) alleged in Comment 6, it seems far more likely that “declining results in educational outcomes seems in reasonable equilibrium” with falling standards in university teacher preparation courses, with graduate teachers having a low level of knowledge & understanding of their classroom subjects and / or devoid of any sort of practical training in the classroom & allied skills of their profession. And this buck sits on the desks of numerous state ministers of education, regardless of major party membership. NSW looks like something of an honourable exception (though recent news stories seem to have it setting off on a similar path to decline).

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‘Cargo cult’ mentality is not an economic development policy

Saul Eslake. Pic: of Saul Eslake
05.09.12 5:50 am

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ABC pic

Pulp mistakes must not be repeated in Tarkine Rather, as I’ve written many times before (Saul Eslake, TT here), Tasmania’s future economic success is far more likely to be found in the production of highly differentiated goods and services, embodying a significant intellectual content (for example in their design or branding), for which customers can be persuaded to pay premium prices. There are many successful examples of that strategy working in Tasmania – but they are all relatively small enterprises, not mega-projects. A ‘cargo cult’ mentality is not an economic development policy. And if Tasmanians can come to terms with that, there will be far fewer shattered hopes and dreams than there have been as a result of the economic development failures of the past three decades.

• Gordon Bradbury, in Comments: Great article Saul. I agree 100%. But I do remain concerned. The rhetoric around much of the local business community points in the direction of multiple new conflicts arising (eg. toxic waste dump, tarkine, mega-trawler, cable-car, etc.). “Bring it on” is what I read far too often. It’s as if we have now become a community addicted to conflict, a bit like Northern Ireland used to be, or the middle east. Communication, relationships and conflict resolution don’t seem to be on anyones agenda. Instead of the “fools being obedient” they have now become rabid! As for the wise, they remain thoughtfully silent, or are unheeded. Learning from past mistakes does seem to be a very difficult lesson indeed.

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The best way to push bad policy is to wrap it in a ‘security’ blanket

Saul Eslake Director, Productivity Growth Program Grattan Institute. Pic: of Saul Eslake
10.11.11 12:03 am

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Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has said he “makes no apologies” for mandating the installation of ‘porno-scanners’ at Australian airports. Perhaps he should, and not only to the travelling public, whose time is wasted and whose privacy and dignity are to be pointlessly infringed by these machines, but also to taxpayers for such a senseless waste of their money.

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Loal Government reform and the Tasmanian Economy

Saul Eslake Director, Productivity Growth Program Grattan Institute. Picture: of Saul Eslake
05.09.11 4:21 am

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Saul Eslake, Director, Productivity Growth Program, the Grattan Institute has been asked,  along with Jude Munro (former CEO of the Brisbane and Adelaide City Councils) and Stephen Hains (former CEO of the Salisbury City Council in South Australia) to constitute an ‘expert panel’ to advise on reform options for local government in Southern Tasmania.

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Prospects for the global, Australian and Tasmanian economies

Saul Eslake Director, Productivity Growth program, Grattan Institute, and Advisor, PricewaterhouseCoopers
09.08.11 1:02 pm

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Launceston Country Club, 9th August 2011: Presentation to a luncheon hosted by the Launceston Chamber of Commerce

Download:

Launceston_CofC_Aug_2011.pdf

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Tasmania is not Greece ... nor is it America

Saul Eslake Director, Productivity Growth Program The Grattan Institute
09.08.11 8:08 am

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Full version of op-ed published in this morning’s Launceston Examiner newspaper, which looks at competing claims made last month in that newspaper by Opposition Treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein and Premier/Treasurer Lara Giddings At best, Mr Gutwein seems to be confusing gross and net debt in the same way that Barnaby Joyce did during his brief and inglorious tenure as Federal Opposition Finance spokesman. He also seems to be making the quite unrealistic assertion that the Government might one day have to meet the superannuation liability all at once. That would only be true if all of the State employees still in unfunded super schemes decided to retire on the same day, all sought lump sum payments, and if all the existing retirees died on that same day and their survivors sought lump sum payments rather than continuing pensions. There’s a greater chance of Andrew Demetriou agreeing to Tasmania having its own team in the AFL than of that happening.

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State Budget needs to come to grips with over-spending and under-delivery

Saul Eslake. Picture: of Saul Eslake
15.06.11 10:14 am

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So it really is ‘crunch time’ for Tasmania. ‘Voluntary redundancies’ and ‘vacancy control’ (not filling positions left vacant by resignations or retirements) won’t achieve the savings required to ensure that the Tasmanian Government can deliver the services which people need without going back to the days of the Gray Government, when these costs were funded in part by borrowing. This week’s Budget needs to lay out, and give effect to, a detailed strategy for transforming the way in which public services are delivered, so that the Government’s coat is tailored to suit its diminished cloth.
• Jo Flanagan, Anglicare, in today’s Mercury: Debate needed on service cuts, HERE

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Why is Tasmania’s per capita gross State product 21% below the mainland’s?

Saul Eslake. Picture: of Saul Eslake
10.05.11 8:53 am

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However there’s a great deal that a Tasmanian government could do, over the medium- to longer-term, to improve the capacity and inclination of Tasmanians of working age to seek and obtain employment, and their productivity in employment, if it were so inclined. Particularly important in that regard is an increase in the amount of time that Tasmanians, both those yet to enter the workforce and those already in it, spend acquiring and upgrading skills that are needed for the contemporary world of work (which will also, more often than not, make them more engaged citizens as well), and improving the quality of what is imparted to Tasmanians by our educational and training institutions.
• The very Honourable Don Wing

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A Night at the Burbury – Shaping Tasmania’s Future

Bronwyn Williams. Picture: of Will Hodgman
02.05.11 12:32 pm

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I did learn, however, that Will Hodgman has some good ideas.  I know it’s a very, very, long shot, but if he could get out from under the influence of the conservative right wing of the Liberal party, and set his own agenda, he could do something positive in Tasmania. And, the giant elephant in the room – Gunns Tamar Valley Pulp Mill – was studiously avoided by everyone present.  Ms Giddings economic ‘cake’ – the centrepiece of her plans for the state’s economic resurrection - was barely mentioned, and was certainly not discussed.

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60 comments

Budget blues: time to fine-tune finances

Saul Eslake
13.04.11 11:53 pm

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Western Australia’s attitude is a bit like that of a pensioner who has won the lottery, and then complains about losing the pension and having to pay some tax on his winnings. But there are a lot more votes in Western Australia than in Tasmania, and even more in New South Wales and Victoria, two of whose former Premiers make up the majority of the review panel which the Prime Minister has established to review the distribution of GST revenues from 2013-14 onwards.

All of this underscores the importance of the Tasmanian Government taking effective action to bring its ‘operating’ expenditures into line with its revenues. As I have written here previously, the fundamental problem is that Tasmania spends more per head of population, or as a proportion of the State’s income, providing government services than can be explained by our relatively small and dispersed population, or the relatively high proportion of our population who are for various reasons in need of such services.

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New Prospects for North West Tasmania

Saul Eslake
07.04.11 12:00 am

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Dan Swinney (speaks) on how his organization has sought to revitalize manufacturing in the Chicago area of the United States through co-operative endeavours involving industry, labour unions and government, with particular emphasis on education and skills acquisition in areas where manufacturing has been in a long decline.

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7 comments

Saul Eslake: Annual Report on the Tasmanian economy

Saul Eslake Director, Productivity Growth Program The Grattan Institute
30.03.11 1:29 pm

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Attached is my ‘Annual Report on the Tasmanian economy’ published in the current issue of 40° South magazine.

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3 comments

Dark clouds on the horizon

Saul Eslake Director, Productivity Growth Program The Grattan Institute
08.03.11 7:32 pm

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In other words, Tasmania’s economy might not be going backwards. But it’s hardly ‘moving forward’, in Julia Gillard’s pre-election slogan, at a pace which inspires much hope for the near-term future.

Saul Eslake, comment: Re #14 - I’m inclined to say, yes, there should be better and more timely disclosure of any over-runs (or shortfalls) in spending by Government departments and agencies compared with budget estimates. That said, the fact that an agency may have spent more than half its annual budget allocation by December 31 in any given year doesn’t necessarily mean it will over-run its annual budget, since the spending patterns of many departments and agencies are not evenly distributed across a financial year.

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Budget cuts: The Saul Eslake view

Saul Eslake. Angus Livingston, Chief Political Reporter, The Examiner. Greens. Picture: of Saul Eslake
10.02.11 12:14 am

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Assuming that there has been a significant hit to the budget from all of these developments, there are four broad strategies which the Government might pursue - 1. run bigger deficits for longer, or smaller surpluses later on - the scope for this is limited by the Government’s fiscal strategy parameters and by the importance of running ‘sound’ bottom lines to perceptions of the Government’s economic competence. 2, further run down cash balances such as Don Challen’s Superannuation Provision Account (SPA)  - the last Budget did a fair bit of this, as did Paul Lennon before the 2006 election, and each time it puts back the date at which the unfunded public sector superannuation liability is extinguished. This is really deficit financing by another name, and although many of the general public, journalists and MPs (with the significant exception of Ruth Forrest MLC) are fooled by it,  the rating agencies and knowledgable economic commentators aren’t. 3. Increases in State taxes - could be done, but …

Greens: Mr Morris also warned that previous governments have fallen into the bad habit of using the Superannuation Provision Account as if it was government’s own form of credit card, and this should be avoided.

John Lawrence, comment: May I offer my thoughts on what is a pleasantly civil exchange of views.

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60 comments

Infrastructure Investment and Productivity

Saul Eslake, The Grattan Institute
07.12.10 4:50 am

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Text and accompanying slides of Saul Eslake’s talk to the Tasmanian Branch of the Economics Society’s Annual Economic Forum held in Hobart,  Friday, December 3 ... However it is appropriate to note that Tasmania’s persistently low productivity levels also owe something to this State’s relatively poor and antiquated infrastructure. Even the most casual observer could hardly fail to notice the poor condition of Tasmania’s major roads, with the exception of the Bass Highway between Launceston and Burnie, and the road to Hobart Airport. Someone who spent a little more time here would be appalled at the condition of the State’s railway infrastructure, and the miniscule role it plays in moving goods, let alone people, around Tasmania. It’s scandalous that people living in (or visiting) towns along Tasmania’s east coast can’t drink the water that comes out of their taps without boiling it first. I could go on (but I won’t).

Part of the reason for this must surely be that Tasmania has invested a smaller proportion of its income in infrastructure than the rest of Australia.

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Tasmania - Quo Vadis?

Saul Eslake, Program Director - Productivity Growth, Grattan Institute
08.04.10 5:02 am

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Notes and slides of a talk at the University of Tasmania Wednesday morning; to the University of the Third Age’s 20th Anniversary function under the heading at their suggestion: Tasmania - Quo Vadis?

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Looking for a cool change? Tasmania gets some 2020 vision

Tim Harcourt, Chief Economist with the Australian Trade Commission and the author of The Airport Economist*
20.11.09 5:47 am

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… some lessons can be learnt from the case of Finland. According to West, “Finland had similar challenges to Tasmania at the beginning of the 1990s. It had a small population, and its economy relied on forest products and ship building, but when the Berlin Wall collapsed and with it Finland’s exports to the Soviet Union, Finland embraced innovation and now is one of the most successful small, open economies in the world and has global brand like Nokia which is a world beater.” So can Tasmania do something similar?

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