We have this relationship with the land, you see, here in Oz. Its a hot and cold one. And we have an election coming up so the political ramifications are a tad fraught. They are hot and cold too, especially the Mainland States' attitude to Tasmania. We, it seems, are a 'mendicant' State, forever draining taxes from the richer mainlanders.
Charlie Wooley came up with a grand plan though !
They’re selling us short“WE are thrilled to offer for your inspection a remote South Pacific island of 68,000 sq km.Forty per cent of the land holding is forest and mountainous wilderness. Twenty-four per cent is farmland. The island has a moderate climate, is mostly well-watered and supports a small hydro-electric power system. An undersea power cable has been installed to provide a modest income as well as security of supply in times of low rainfall. There is considerable built infrastructure in a number of small towns and cities, mainly in coastal areas. Many of the assets, natural and built, are of considerable beauty and historical interest but, as in the past, this should in no way impede large-scale redevelopment.
Not to mention the Real Estate Agents, who would applaud Charlie's 'South Pacific' reference. It is a typical estate agent's trikery, being as we are more in the Great Southern Ocean and the next place south is Antarctica !This property has not been offered for sale in more than two centuries and in recent years it has been run down and poorly managed. But the opportunity is here for an energetic and highly motivated buyer to realise the true potential and value of this remarkable slice of real estate.While a sale of this size will involve some complex compliance issues, we are assured the owner, the Australian Government, is very keen to dispose of this property.PRICE ON APPLICATION”NOW, my dear [Fellow Tavern customers], the above is exactly what Australia’s mainland state premiers would like to read in the property pages.
For some time now they have characterised Tasmania as an expensive and weighty ball and chain around the leg of the Federation. They resent having to carry us and would happily wave us goodbye.I did not get a warm feeling from the Prime Minister’s recent thought bubble that, if we wanted the same level of health and education as everyone else, we should pay for it through double taxation.Nor did the Treasurer, in his Budget this week, show much concern for the poorest wage-earners in the Commonwealth, when he introduced tax cuts for the Australians who earn more than $80,000 a year.Four out of five Tasmanian wage-earners are on lot less than that and will get no tax cut at all. When the poorest people in the Commonwealth get no tax relief while the Federal Government looks after the richest, I can only wonder which part of the compound noun “commonwealth” is not properly understood.I think it is unlikely Treasurer Scott Morrison will oppose the sale of our state in the way he opposed the sale of the Kidman cattle stations.The Kidman cattle empire sprawled over an area widely reported to comprise 2 per cent of the Australian land mass. It is the biggest piece of property for sale anywhere in the world.
In an election year, it is way too big for the Australian public to cop flogging it off to China.Tasmania is a much less controversial number and less iconic in the mainland mind.We represent less than 1 per cent of the nation by area and our sale would be much easier to swallow, politically speaking. Most mainlanders, if they know us at all, would happily see us go.
And lately, I must say, the feeling is mutual.I have recently spoken about these matters with my legal adviser, Tobias Droole QC, from the respected old Hobart legal firm of Ogle, Perve and Droole. He was clearly beside himself with enthusiasm at the prospect of getting a slice of the action.
“Great Scott, this is marvellous for Tasmania!” he shouted down the phone from Victoria.In fact, I am obliged to mention that Droole, anticipating the sale of his old home state, has already decamped to live in coastal splendour somewhere south of Melbourne. When Droole consults in Hobart, he can be found at the stately old Amnesia Club in the Georgian heart of the city.“Wooley, this is a fabulous sale, but it has so many entangled legal and financial details which will demand considerable contemplation. It won’t be cheap,” he shouted excitedly over the click-clack of his desk calculator.
“It’s the biggest conveyancing job since Jefferson bought Louisiana from Napoleon in 1803!”
It’s early days, but Droole assured me that, globally, there is no shortage of prospective buyers. I will report more as details emerge, but for now let’s just stick with the big picture.The price? We are looking to raise a lot more than the $50 billion our mainland cousins are going to squander on submarines, but my advisers tell me that when you are buying a country, the price doesn’t matter.Our aim is for every Tasmanian resident — man, woman and child — to receive an untaxed payment of at least a couple of million dollars.
Those who wish to leave for Tuscany or Bordeaux will be bought out of their property and businesses at market value plus a percentage. In the interest of those who wish to stay on, to live or trade under the new regimen, I have suggested we should sell to a democracy such as India or Indonesia.Droole disagreed.“Sentimental nonsense, my boy,” he declared. “Chinese money is as good as anyone else’s and, besides, there’s more of it. Tasmania is a socialist state anyway. Those silly enough to stay will hardly notice the difference.”
I would happily go along with Charlie's idea. Just so long as the Tavern keeps going and I keep the beautiful views I have now from my bottom-of-the-mountainside cave. I shall not be leaving.I would be remiss not to point out the one fly in this opulent ointment. With wealth comes responsibility. We can’t all go to New Zealand, Hawaii, France, Ireland or any of the obvious places. We need to spread out. Five hundred thousand rich Tasmanians lobbing into the same few spots around the world would have a disastrous local inflationary effect and seriously devalue our wealth. We need to contemplate those lesser-known places in Asia, Africa and South America. We need to spread our Tasmanian diaspora so thinly that we are unnoticed — and that means we can’t all have our first choice of Lake Como or Provence.Sorry. I know many of you will be disappointed, but until now you were complaining about the problem of not having enough money. Now we’ve given you lots of it and you are complaining about the concerns that go with keeping it.There is just no pleasing some people.