There used to be graffiti scrawled on a wall in Hobart’s Liverpool Street. It read: "Gray Days in Hobbit Town". It referred to the writer’s despair in left-leaning West Hobart at having Robin Gray as the then pugnacious, pro-development, cranes-in-the-sky Liberal premier. The only better example of local political graffiti I had read was when low-profile Frank Wilkes was opposition leader in Victoria. A graffiti artist commented on the side of an overpass in St Kilda: "Frank, the Ghost who Wilkes".

There is tangible despair in Hobbit Town today as the full impact of Premier Lara Giddings’ austere budget reveals itself to those still reading newspapers. The state is going into deficit for the first time in eight years, falling further behind the other states, one fears.