University of Tasmania

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The administration of Tasmania : its origins, development and future direction

posted on 2023-05-26, 20:09 authored by Kavanagh, W D(William Dudley)
We owe much to tradition in the form and practice of our political and administrative institutions, tradition which we have largely inherited from the United Kingdom. Tradition is, at once, both the repository of our experiences and the foundation from upon which we reach out to our future. Perhaps nowhere is tradition more exemplified than in the military. The pagentry which is displayed on the Horse Guards Parade in London during the Trooping of the Colour before the Monarch is steeped in tradition. But there it stops. The colourful uniforms, which were once so necessary for recognition on the battlefield became a liability and are today discarded save for ceremonial duties. This is one lesson to be learned from experience and from history. Tradition, important as it is in providing a secure base and national identity, cannot be allowed to become fixed in a concrete of past experiences, in which the past itself dictates the forward direction rather than acting as a pointer to it. Some of those British political and administrative practices upon which ours are based have themselves actually altered in the years intervening since Federation and are no longer applicable in the United Kingdom itself. A most significant example is the loss of reserve power(s) by the House of Lords in 1911 and which the Australian Upper Houses still retain, such as the ability to block Supply (Queensland excepted). In this sense we are now \more British than the British themselves\" they having moved along this path of political evolution at a faster pace than Australia. For Tasmania there are a number of lessons to be drawn from this approach to tradition. The Island State occupies a unique position within the Federation in that it alone is a separated offshore member of the Commonwealth. In its size population and relationship to its neighbouring landmass it has only a very few equivalents elsewhere in the World (one such being Newfoundland). It has a small but well distributed population which is actually disadvantaged by this very fact in the provision of major community services such as tertiary education and central medical facilities. Furthermore the population base is too small to be an economically self sustaining industrial unit. The economies of scale do not exist. Its sea communications with the other States are disadvantaged when compared to other countries trading with Australia because the sea trade passes twice (not once as in the case of foreign imports) through some of the most expensive ports in the Asian region and it is carried on some of the most expensively operated ships in the World. Inter-State air transport likewise has to bear the full impost of substantial domestic air navigation and airport charges together with full excise on fuel. New Zealand by contrast can trade with mainland Australia on relatively favourable terms (as compared with Tasmania) under the provisions of the Closer Economic Relations Agreement and largely because of these factors. Moreover in a Country which has a Federally funded National Roads Programme linking the other States airports are now either being transferred (as are seaports already) to local ownership or to a \"User Pays\" status. Notwithstanding that the user pays there is no corresponding opportunity for control by users of airport operations efficiency or costs. In Commerce the explosion of electronic communications accounting and banking has in recent years seen the rapid transfer of economic control over Tasmanian Industry and Commerce to Mainland centres. Apart from any distortions which this might cause in the local Capital Market it further disadvantages the State by affecting its (Federal) taxation base. Many of these disadvantaging factors and particularly air transport were not even concepts at the time of Federation and of the drafting of the Commonwealth Constitution. Most have been recognised and documented by Callaghan (1977) (3) and by others including this writer (1968) (4) Others such as sea transport which once represented a cost advantage are now costly disadvantages. The challenge then is for Tasmania to be more efficient more effective and economically more attractive than are the other States. This much is obvious less so is the answer. The writer postulates that we can only meet this challenge by critically reviewing our political and administrative institutions and machinery. We should try to learn from the best aspects of other systems whilst keeping the best of our own. It is in that context that this Dissertation is offered for consideration."


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Copyright 1986 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)--University of Tasmania, 1987. Bibliography: leaves 116-123

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