Tasmania’s north west: a region to be proud of

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By Strategic Partner Paul Arnold

Tasmania is arguably the most regional state in Australia. In part this is due to the colonial settlement strategy, or was it a concoction of penal colonies, without much strategy?

Nevertheless, the three distinct regions in Tasmania have forged very different societal and economic structures that have been the bedrock of Tasmania’s development and prosperity since colonial times.

The regions started out quite independent and woe betide those who wish to suggest that Tasmania’s north includes the north west. This has been a common theme that can create enormous displeasure for proud north west coasters.

Newcomers to the state have little idea of the fierce parochialism that exists, and this parochialism is generally its strength. The north west can be as parochial as it needs to be to protect its interests and rightful place in the state.

It has had to stand up on several occasions in order to highlight the injustice of strategies, plans and policies that work against its better interests. Carrying just 21.5 per cent of the state’s population, the north west holds its head high when it comes to Gross State Product.

The region punches well above its weight in mining, agriculture, manufacturing, forestry and aquaculture. Tourism is also enjoying steady growth in visitor numbers, with a heap more opportunities, if we can set the right parameters.

Anecdotally, the region is awash with visitors during the recent past and it is now mandatory to make bookings if you want to dine out. Generally, that has not been the case for this region.

The diversity of industry and commerce combined with the huge potential of each industry sector continues to fuel a positive outlook for the region. While the region has taken many hits in recent years, the diversity has allowed one sector to flourish when another sector is challenged. Such is the situation over recent months in this part of the world.

Agriculture, aquaculture and tourism will continue to open up all sorts of opportunities, and manufacturing will rebound to be a strong part of the economy. Little wonder the region has become self-reliant and longs to be self-sufficient.

Self-sufficiency is where we must lay down our proud parochial views and accept that we cannot provide full employment, nor all the services that we would like.

The fortnightly Centrelink payment is still the largest payroll in town and that has to be a growing worry for federal budgets. To maintain the standard of living for those so dependant.

Sadly, this regional parochialism can have its downside too. It can develop into inter-town parochialism and we all get a bit too precious about what services are located where.

This preciousness has resulted in duplication of airports, ports, hospitals, shopping centres, entertainment complexes, local governments, and the list goes on. In the final analysis, this duplication of effort does not serve anyone’s interest, but instead detracts from the enormous potential that abounds and weakens self-sufficiency.

The north west region has a very strong future and its best days are not far away.

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