It is with great pleasure and pride that I introduce this second TCCI Tasmania Report to you. It is remarkable both in the quality of the data and the themes identified as well as the unique partnership that makes the funding of the report possible. The idea that the TCCI and TasCOSS together with B&E Personal Banking, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the Federal Group and Southern Cross Television could combine in a partnership that provides all of us with key data, disrupts conventional attitudes around likely partnerships formed for the benefit of all Tasmanians.
As engaged Tasmanian leaders you all know the significance of accurate data in measuring and managing key objectives and the benefits of positive relationships with stakeholders who join with us in striving to achieve a better Tasmania for all and who recognise that prosperity and wellbeing are intrinsically linked at an individual and community level. The significance of economic indicators alone can cloud vision and judgment. The juxtaposition of social and economic indicators informs a fuller appreciation and prompts debate about the priorities that Tasmania must set. Of course, the state government plays a huge part in the achievement of community priorities, but local government, health and education institutions, industry, businesses, households and individuals have a responsibility to look beyond self-interest and professional empires, and understand and act for the needs of Tasmania as a whole.
Tasmanians are the unhealthiest, oldest, worst educated, most under-employed and most dependent on government benefits in Australia. This is not sustainable and if it continues will condemn a large number of Tasmanians to unproductive lives with compromised opportunities for employment, personal fulfilment and community engagement. The flow-on effects mean increasing health costs, more people who feel alienated from society, and who in turn, have no stake in developing communities.
Consider, what could be achieved if we saw these ‘deficits’ as challenges and opportunities.
Because we have the oldest population in Australia, there is an opportunity to bring the needs and wishes of older people into new business and service models that could lead the whole country. Developing sustainable models of services for older Tasmanians in all parts of the state presents opportunities for training and employment, redirection of funds from an increasingly expensive sickness model to more proportionate and seamless wellbeing model of health. Not only is our aging demographic a spur to the development of new services, it is also a largely untapped consumer group. Businesses and communities that create age-friendly experiences, services and consumables will meet this burgeoning market opportunity. Let’s not forget that this cohort still has many productive years which can be mobilised by a fresh look at training opportunities for those who are over 50.
Traditionally, business has not examined the qualitative indicators of Tasmania’s success such as housing, education and health. The TCCI believes that the true measure of a successful Tasmania must include improved achievements in these areas as well as the quantitative indicators of employment, infrastructure development, levels of taxation and the costs of doing business in an island state with a static population and limited transport options.
It is pleasing to see that following the publication of last year’s Tasmania Report we have seen a state wide debate about education. Whatever the stakeholder sentiment, it is gratifying to see the engagement and the passion that has fanned the debate. We congratulate the state government on its education reform program and local media for keeping the debate vigorous and Education Ambassadors for continuing to provide additional data. The TCCI envisages Tasmania as the most successful state in the Commonwealth. The measures of that success include prosperity but depend on education standards and good health. With the publication of the second Tasmania Report, the TCCI will continue to track Tasmania’s progress towards the attainment of improved results in jobs, construction, exports, new businesses, housing, health status and educational achievement.