In the coming weeks and months, the attention of Tasmanians and Australians will increasingly turn to the recovery plan for both our economy and our way of life following COVID-19.
Of course, we will have to remain continually vigilant in protecting the community and each other from COVID-19 infections, right up until a vaccine is available. However, the commitment and discipline shown by the overwhelming majority of Tasmanians over the last two months has given us the opportunity to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The support measures put in place by state and federal governments to support local businesses and keep people in jobs during the crisis is at levels never seen before in this country. However, there’s no avoiding the fact that there is a tough road ahead and as a state we must think strategically and capitalise on every opportunity to get our local businesses thriving again and to get Tasmanians back into work.
Compared to other countries, Australia’s ability to produce for ourselves has stood up reasonably well during this crisis. However, product shortages in supermarkets over a sustained period of time show that there is room for improvement in preparing for future crises, and there are gaps where we must build local capacity.
We must put our state in a position to attract the new business and industry which will emerge from what we’ve learnt from this crisis.
We’ve always known that expanding the amount of high-quality fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood creates local jobs and brings important income from overseas sales. There is now an even stronger acknowledgement that local production also protects our state and our country during the bad times.
The focus for Australia during the recovery period should therefore be on building the businesses and industries that employ Australians. Food production, energy security, advanced manufacturing and high quality education and skills training will, to an even greater extent than before, be critical industries that must be supported to rebuild and grow.
Tasmania already has an excellent reputation in each of these areas, and it is important that the state and local industry builds a strong case for further investment both from the public and private sectors. The need to encourage the private sector to develop new businesses and products in Tasmania is greater than ever.
As a result, we must reduce the chances for anti-development forces to delay and deter major projects and investments – it’s now more important than ever that we do everything we can to ensure Tasmania can get back to work.
All levels of government must make clear to private enterprise that Tasmania is a great place to manufacture, mine, grow, and base a major business. It will be very hard to do so if every major development continues to come under attack from a vocal minority.