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Economy

Tasmania in the slow lane

Tasmania is sitting in the back of the slow lane, compared to other states, heard a CEDA audience at the Tasmanian Economic and Political Overview in Hobart.

 
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Tasmania is sitting in the back of the slow lane, compared to other states, Minister for Economic Development; Infrastructure and Workplace Relations, David O'Byrne told a CEDA audience at the Tasmanian Economic and Political Overview in Hobart.

Without the benefits of booming resource sectors and a reduction in GST receipts, the economic outlook for Tasmania is more challenging than other states, Mr O'Byrne said.

The State's economic position also needs to be improved so it is not so vulnerable to shocks, he said.

"As a government we need to work strategically and focus on our strengths," he said.

"We have the opportunity to double our dairy production, double our aquaculture, and quadruple our wine production within a decade.

"We will continue to support our traditional industries, work strategically with our growth sectors, support our services sector, leverage the NBN advantage, and continue to invest in key infrastructure."

Mr O'Byrne highlighted the areas of dairy, wine, forestry, tourism and research connected with the Antarctic as the areas Tasmania needs to focus on and invest in.

In addition local government needs to change and adapt, including a review and reduction of the number of local councils, he said.

"Reform in this area is needed and I urge local government to embrace it, in the interests of all Tasmanians," he said.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom for Tasmania. Business investment is at a three-year high; and current plans and investment should increase jobs and economic growth, he said.

Business Spectator, Political Commentator, Rob Burgess provided an overview of the political environment, after the "theatre of politics" witnessed by Australians.

There are a number of reasons why, the view that the coalition is a "shoe in" at the next federal election is not true, he said.

For one, Labor has been clever about how it has introduced the carbon tax, with a large part allocated to tax cuts, pension increases and investment in renewables, Mr Burgess said.

Households who are not well informed will see changes in bank balances, and this will impact how they vote, he said.

Although the asylum seeker issue may be perceived as "a huge stuff up", neither side of politics appears to have a solution, he said.

Additionally, the "Bob Carr effect" will have material political impact. His charisma and intelligence is a boon for the labor party, he said.

The theatre of politics has been a distraction from policy meaning "we haven't had a fair contest of ideas," he said.

But it appears "the Coalition has tipped its hand in a policy sense" and will begin to reveal some of its policies, he said.

But it won't be easy as the Coalition will go up against a Labor Government that has produced "robust economic results for the country," he said.

National Australia Bank, Head of Australian Economics and Commodities, Rob Brooker provided the economic overview.

On Tasmania he said the challenges faced by the state include a lack of exposure to mining, lack of head offices and distance from the mainland.

"There's a possibility here that the strength of the dollar may well be placing a lot of strain on the Tasmanian economy without the capacity for Tasmania to plug into the mining boom in some other way," he said.

"Although, there are signs here of improvement both in conditions and in confidence in more recent months."