Top 10 contributors to the Tasmanian economy
Tasmania has a diverse economy with hundreds of significant exporters. The exports go mainly to Asia, and Japan is Tasmania's largest single customer.
Keeping the money going around within the State, the greatest demand is generated by the public sector. There are probably more government jobs per head of population in Tasmania than anywhere else in Australia. Public servants in Tasmania sometimes agitate for higher pay, on the basis that they are less well paid than their co-workers on the mainland. However, it is rather obvious that the average person will work for less in Tasmania because the cost of housing is considerably lower than on the mainland. There is a counter argument that food and petrol costs are higher in Tasmania, primarily because these essentials are controlled by two major retailers who, lacking effective national enforcement of a competitive environment, quite shamelessly plunder the Tasmanian consumer.
Here are the largest contributors to the Tasmanian economy – the sectors that pay for a pleasant lifestyle for 500,000 islanders.
Production of metals brings more than 1.3 billion Australian dollars into Tasmania every year. The largest processors of minerals are Nyrstar, the current owners of a zinc smelter on the Derwent River in Hobart, and aluminium producers on the Tamar River at Bell Bay in the north.
Tourism brings around 1.3 billion Australian dollars into the Tasmanian economy every year. In recent times there has been an annual influx of more than 800,000 visitors. The winter months are a quiet period for tourism but in the summer there are nearly fifty cruise-ship arrivals in Hobart, daily arrivals on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry service into Devonport, and a huge boost provided by the availability of low-cost flight services.
For the purposes of this exercise I am talking about the manufacture of textiles, machinery, including marine, automotive components, heavy engineering and mining equipment, as well as the output of two ship-building companies – well, builders of rather large aluminium-hulled passenger ferries actually. Sometimes the figures for manufactured goods are boosted by including items that are bunched in the food and beverage, and timber, categories on this list.
Wood and Paper
About half of all Australian exports of woodchips, newsprint and writing paper come from Tasmania. Hardwood production is much less, as a percentage of total Australian exports. Factories have been developed in Tasmania to add value to the forestry resource by manufacturing laminated veneers and particle board. The timber industry contributes about half a billion Australian dollars to the Tasmanian economy every year.
Minerals such as copper, zinc and lead are mined, mostly on the west coast of Tasmania, and the export of unprocessed ores contributes around four hundred million Australian dollars to the Tasmanian economy every year.
Unprocessed wild fisheries, harvesting abalone and rock lobster in the main, and farmed Atlantic salmon contribute about one hundred and fifty million Australian dollars to the Tasmanian economy every year.
Beef and, to a lesser extent, lamb exports bring in around one hundred and twenty million Australian dollars into the Tasmanian economy every year. Tasmania is the only state in Australia that has a legislated prohibition on the use of hormone growth promotants, and that gives exporters an edge in certain markets. The meat industry in Tasmania also generates income through sales of pork and poultry, albeit at levels much lower than red meat exports.
Approximately 460 dairy farms in Tasmania produce nearly seven hundred million litres of milk a year. Dairy exports, lead by cheese and cream products, contribute over one hundred million Australian dollars a year to the Tasmanian economy.
Other food and drink
Tasmania produces a huge range of quality food and beverage products. Chief among these items, in terms of export income, would be fruit, vegetables, chocolate, beer and wine. These bring in more than one hundred million Australian dollars into the State every year, quite apart from the income generated through export of seafood, meat and dairy products.
It has been difficult to obtain accurate data on the value of information and communications technology services as a contribution to the Tasmanian economy and, conceiveably, this category deserves to be placed higher up this list. Respected economists have placed ICT on their list of contributors, and the sector is apparently growing rapidly.