Sunday, 30 August 2020

Where to UTas?


The University of Tasmania’s 2019 Annual Report has finally been released.

The university reports on a calendar year basis. The Auditor General signed off the 2019 report in February 2020. The Board (known as the Council) adopted the report in May and sent it to the government as required by its governing Act. It’s been sitting in someone’s in-tray for the last 3 months. Another Covid victim no doubt.

Apart from the financials it’s a pretty skinny report.The overview for the year occupied only six pages. Even then it was a cut and paste from previous offerings, from the now outdated Strategic Plan 2019-2024 dated July 2019 for instance. UTas is “not long-term economically sustainable and being economically sustainable is no easy task…….At an operating level, we break even. Still, there is no surplus to see our facilities renewed for the next generation.” If there were sustainability questions in July 2019, they would have been more evident when the Council signed the report in February 2020. Even more so today in a pandemic world.

Serious as it was, sustainability didn’t get another mention. The rest of the overview degenerated into a public relations pastiche with more proper nouns and acronyms that you could poke a stick at…… The Ways of Working project, the People Strategy and College People plans, the Academic Leadership Development Program, which led to the Lean (sic) and simplification momentum continuing to build across the University via a new process improvement tool called Go-See-Fix, the unsuccessful attempt to satisfy the international Athena SWAN charter atho’ UTas did get a Bronze Award accreditation and is committed to continue commitment to the SAGE initiative. It might as well have been written in Swahili. If a student served up drivel like that in an assignment, you’d fail them. Irrelevant twaddle especially when there are pressing matters of sustainability.

The brief overview concluded with two pages describing UTas’ building program which is fitting perhaps because more than ever UTas is a property developer with a side hustle in education.

The financials confirm this.


Tuesday, 25 August 2020

The magic and mystery of money


If nothing else of enduring benefit survives post Covid, let us hope it is a better understanding of money, where it comes from and how we can better use it for public good.


Energy policy and Project Marinus


The absence of a coordinated transparent energy policy at the Federal level means trying to find a place for Project Marinus in Tasmania’s future is like a search without a map. That unfortunately has been the adhoc pattern of energy policy in Tasmania over recent years.

The unbundling of Hydro into generation, transmission and retail businesses in the late 1990s was driven by the ethos at the time; that corporatised businesses run like those in the private sector, doing deals with the private sector, was the way to unlock value, encourage efficiencies and deliver a better deal for all of us.The report card to date indicates this hasn’t occurred..

Over the last 20 years or so our State’s energy businesses have largely remained in public hands. Tasmanians have a special attachment to Hydro. We refrained from selling grandma as many others did, but with three government electricity businesses pursuing their own ends with no overall plan , and with private companies searching out and finding niche areas to get access to regulated and at times guaranteed revenue streams, has meant that Tasmanian taxpayers have been paying a huge price.


Saturday, 15 August 2020

Future of gaming in Tasmania

This paper was written in March 2020 as a submission to Treasury's Public Consultation process into Future Gaming Market policy. The process was deferred due to Covid. It is expected to resume during the spring 2020 parliamentary session.



Executive summary

Sharing the EGM spoils: Pubs and clubs


Gifts and perpetual licences

Community support levy and EGMs in casinos