Oct 4, 2012

Et in Arcadia ego: Tasmania’s rotten economic apple

Most bank managers will tell you that before they can help you, you should get your mind and your house in order. That's the challenge facing Tasmania.

Imagine: you visit your bank manager to explain you would like a loan to continue to run the family farm but you have chosen to excise half of your land and forests for their intrinsic biological values. That, of course, impacts your ability to develop fully the business potential of your property so you are only earning half what you might. As a result you have a fantastic lifestyle, many want to come and stay at your place for the weekend (but not forever) and play in your forests, you’re as poor as a church mouse and you’re getting deeper in debt.

The manager tells you that your loan interest rate will have to go up substantially unless you maximise the potential of your property to run the business profitably. “I might like to do that,” you respond, “but I own the property in partnership with some colleagues who actually want to lock more of it up.”

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

9 thoughts on “Et in Arcadia ego: Tasmania’s rotten economic apple

  1. klewso

    Who and why cut it back from 35 to 25 – reaping this sort of “reward for effort”?
    The major parties – trying to marginalise the little bloke?

  2. John Bennetts

    OK, now that you have trotted out the percentage of remaining forest that Moodies or whoever demand that Tas opens to the plow, how about giving us another figure?

    How much of the ORIGINAL forest lands in Tasmania remain as forest? And, how much of that is still old growth, ie not regrowth and certainly not private woodlot?

    To say that a percentage of the remaining forest must be cut down is to propose the death of a thousand cuts, as year after year a percentage of the remaining stock is done away with.

    For comparison purposes, I suggest that you also quote the equivalent percentages of Australia’s ten largest trading partners. One of these is Japan, about which I have seen written that 100% of the original forest area remains forested, due to a strict policy of forest replacement. I may well be wrong in this, so I invite correction.

    Come on, Mr Bruce Montgomery. Give us the necessary perspective, before recommending that we start blindly chopping. My guess is that only 25% or 30% of the original forests remain.

    Do you recommend that we should stop cutting at 15%?


    Who should decide? Moodies?

  3. David R

    Increasing the number of lower house seats from 25 to 35 would be a useful reform. However, I think it would be better to reform the upper house which operates on some weird electoral cycle with mostly independent members.

  4. zut alors

    Banks fail to grasp the concept that a protected tree can have value beyond money.

  5. Robert Brown

    Hopefully the author isn’t suggesting that we (Tasmanians, Australians) value things in the world same as ratings agencies do?!?!? That would be a terrible world to live in!

    Isn’t it possible to get Tassie’s wonderful wilderness areas “onto the balance sheet” is some acceptable manner? And for the matter, the rest of Australia too.

  6. klewso

    So may things seem to have greater value “dead”?

  7. AR

    If Tas achieves nothing else, retaining GM status will serve it well for generations to come. In the meantime, half a million people on rich island with moderate climate about the size of Ireland could easily become self sufficient if they adopt, early & voluntarily the less wasteful & energy intensive lifestyle that will become the norm within a generation.

  8. dirt armature

    The choice posed by Bruce Montgomery is between a Green arcadia and a mining, agricultural amd forestry industrial economy. False dichotomy. Why can’t we have a Green industrial economy?

  9. Kevin Tyerman

    Yeah, who needs the environment when you’ve got a farm…. oh, umm, wait!

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details