In the three years since the first TCCI Tasmania Report the story of Tasmania has evolved and our vision and sense of who we are and who we want to be is starting to look very different.
Education and health, low household incomes, housing affordability and the essentials of life such as energy, healthy food and transport continue to be major issues.
Every year 5000 households go without meals, 7000 can’t afford to heat their homes and over 21,000 struggle to pay their bills on time. But the evidence is building: We don’t want this to be the story of our future. The people of Tasmania know that things can change.
The first indication of this major change was the outcome of the federal election in 2016 and the loss of three House of Representative members who demonstrated a deep ignorance of the views of their constituency. Our rejection of those views at the polls was the first strong evidence that Tasmanians wanted a new way of thinking and the first major twist in our traditional story. The 63.6% Yes vote for marriage equality from Tasmania shows that this isn’t a one off.
These messages paint a strong picture of who we are: progressive change-makers who want our communities and our state to be fair, equal and inclusive. This hasn’t always been our traditional narrative. Our story has long been one of power that sat with a few and often negatively impacted many – the sobering data in the Tasmania Report is the legacy of this approach.
The evidence is building: We don’t want this to be the story of our future. People and communities matter to Tasmanians, it is at the heart of who we are. It is what connects us all, the threads of humanity that run through a small state like Tasmania. This is why Tasmanians want the voices and needs of those on the margins brought to the centre.
But change is hard.
Our story, the culture and the perceptions of who we are, runs deep. We tend to default to discussion about our deficits and, in doing so, quickly lose sight of our greatest potential asset – our people. People are not born a liability.
Our systems, our cultures, our ingrained attitudes can cause people to be marginalised and not able to participate, socially or economically. In fact, people are the competitive advantage we have to leverage a new future. To change, we need to invest differently – in communities and people, in the same way we invest in projects of state significance, in industries, in tourism infrastructure. Our story should be about all, not some.
We need a bold government to take us there.
A government striving for truly “balanced books”, not just measuring that balance economically, but also outcomes for people. This then pays dividends, in health, education, employment, participation rates and the strength and resilience of our communities.
The first chapters of our new story of our state have been written by all of us and they herald a Tasmania that is fair, just and inclusive. We are poised at the start of our next chapter and it is our job as Tasmanians to act and to tell our decision-makers what we want our story to be.