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Minister's foreword

Minister's foreword

I am delighted to present the Tasmanian Government’s Economic Development Plan.

This plan charts a clear direction for our economic development priorities over the next ten years, taking a whole-of-government approach that aligns strategies on skills, infrastructure, environment, energy and other elements critical to the state’s economic development.

Historically, the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts (DEDTA) has adopted a strategic approach and comprehensive plans to inform the government’s economic development work. While recognising the work that has occurred previously, occasionally we need to re-examine the state of the Tasmanian economy to see if we should refocus or take a different approach.

This last happened in 1998-99 when a number of detailed industry audits were conducted. The work done then allowed us to take a very close look at the structure of the Tasmanian economy and the contributions made by various industries.

The first integrated industry development policy was created by the then-new Bacon Labor Government. As a result and following a dark time in Tasmania’s economic history, a decade of improvement in the Tasmanian economy occurred.

Similarly, the Economic Development Plan is being launched amidst the ongoing impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), which has placed our economy under strain, and at a time when our state economy is rapidly transitioning from its reliance upon traditional industries. The Australian Government’s new Carbon Tax will also bring both challenges and opportunities for Tasmania. We must understand and address these challenges as we capitalise on the opportunities created by significant structural reform.

At times like these, we need to re-examine the strategies and framework that we use to engage in work of generational significance for our diverse economy. Structural change must occur - to transition to new circumstances, to take strategic advantage of opportunities that arise and to protect jobs.

In the last 18 months, DEDTA has undertaken the necessary research to underpin the framework of the Economic Development Plan. This has been a comprehensive process to identify and understand fully our state’s key advantages, constraints, and opportunities for growth.

This work has highlighted that Tasmania’s natural advantages are significant. We enjoy a pristine natural environment with some of the cleanest water and air in the world. One third of our natural assets are protected. We are blessed with resources and have the opportunity to harvest these in a sustainable way to increase wealth levels for all of our communities.

Our rich resources include water, food and agriculture. Tasmania is well positioned for a future where water equals wealth and there is a growing global demand for food and an increasing consumer focus on food safety.

Our clean green credentials are reinforced by our robust renewable energy sector and opportunities for growth exist in wind, solar and geothermal energy. With more than 80 per cent of our energy already sourced renewably, Tasmania has a strong foundation for growth as the broader economy transitions to a clean energy future.

Not unlike other larger regions in Australia, mining and mineral processing opportunities currently in the pipeline also have the potential to add millions of dollars to our annual resource export earnings. China’s demand for resources is forecast to continue for at least the next 20 years and mineral prices have now reopened significant opportunities for Tasmania to share in the resources boom.

Complementing this growth, distances are shrinking with technology, enabling greater participation in the global economy. The National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout in Tasmania will bring us even closer to the world and give us a significant competitive advantage with completion scheduled a full five years ahead of the other states. We will be well positioned to leverage off this firstmover advantage.

Our geographical location has contributed to Tasmania being recognised as the international gateway to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and we are well placed to take advantage of the strong international interest in this area. The Antarctic sector has grown into a highly-skilled and robust industry servicing the Southern Ocean. It has also created synergies with our highly regarded and diverse specialist manufacturing industries.

This has contributed to a thriving science and research hub and a dynamic university sector which positions us competitively in the knowledge economy.

The foundation of this knowledge base is our people and Tasmania continues to grow in the areas of education provision, information technology, science and research. Institutes such as the Menzies Research Centre play a critical role in attracting and retaining highly skilled people to Tasmania who become the educators and researchers of tomorrow. Capacity-building initiatives like the Tasmanian Leaders Program ensure that we continue to recognise and nurture those who will lead Tasmania to a strong future and ensure our efforts remain focused on where our strengths lie.

These strengths combine to contribute to our strong brand identification. Pursuing sustainable economic development will further reinforce our liveability advantage and encourage more people to live, work, visit and invest in Tasmania.

Tasmanians are naturally innovative and resourceful and the Economic Development Plan will help us capitalise on these opportunities to achieve our vision.

As island people, it is in our nature to work creatively and collaboratively. Through working together and striving to be the best in the world, we can continue to build Tasmania’s economy and secure our economic future, not just for the short term, but for generations to come.

David O’Byrne
Minister for Economic Development
August 2011

 

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