Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Missing millions and the law of triviality

Parkinson’s law of triviality briefly states says the time spent on any agenda item is inversely proportional to the sum involved.

Since 2007/08 cash deficits have been recorded in every year, totalling $1 billion, deficits that have been funded by plundering amounts set aside for other purposes.

Whilst it is commendable to boost aggregate demand by running deficits, the reality has meant Tasmania has been spending all available cash because it’s wedded to the idea that debt is undesirable while at the same time refusing to reform the unsustainable model to allow borrowings, which might provide scope to achieve more desirable economic and social outcomes in the future.

It’s a model we’ve been following for years. It’s about to reach its used by date.

Monday, 23 December 2013

A happy new year is unlikely

One lesson from the recent Federal election is that the successful campaign relied more on dissatisfaction with the incumbents than the alternative policies offered.

The State election campaign seems to be following a similar pattern.

When it comes to describing the State government’s position and prescribing alternative solutions we are yet to proceed beyond a few slogans.

The final State accounts for 2012/13 were issued at the end of October to an underwhelming response from the media and the alternative government. Talking about the State government’s financial position for a few days once a year at budget time in May is scarcely enough to run an informed discussion, a necessary prerequisite if ever we are to reverse our lemming like progress over the precipice.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The last gasp

If ever confirmation was needed we are governed by idiots then look no further than a recommendation of the Ferguson Review of the Tasmanian Private Hardwood Plantation Estate.

After what was little more than a school project trying to determine the extent of private hardwood plantations in Tasmania and describing the problems that have arisen in unravelling the complexities of MIS schemes the review panel concluded, inter alia, we should “promote ongoing expansion of the plantation estate by revisiting incentive schemes”.


Nowhere in the entire report is there any mention of dollars.

The reviewers concluded further assistance to the plantation industry was needed without any reference to any dollar figures?

It’s not unusual to see recommendations based on false assumptions and sophist arguments leading to erroneous often predetermined conclusions but Martin Ferguson and his fellow reviewers, Tom Fisk from Private Forests Tasmania, Jan Davis from TFGA and Norm McIlfatrick, secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources take the cake.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Forestry Tasmania's challenges

It’s a sad commentary on the democratic process that impending elections and the accompanying sloganeering and posturing actually retards discussion and implementation of sensible public policy.

Watching last week’s parliamentary hearing into Forestry Tasmania (FT) one could be excused for thinking that FT’s major problem was not the large losses incurred in 2012/13 and likely to continue into the foreseeable future, but the treatment afforded users of special species timber.

FT reckoned its loss for the year was $6.5 million. The Auditor General introduced a concept of underlying profit designed to exclude one off and capital amounts and he reckoned the loss was $12 million.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A new forest way?

Reconstruction of the forest plantation industry continues at a lawyerly pace largely away from media glare.

What happens in the next six months or so will determine a future framework for tree plantations.

Liquidator PPB Advisory is in the final stages of terminating all Great Southern MIS schemes with the recent signing of a contract for the sale of most of the growers’ trees.