Perception versus reality in Tassie forestry debate


The Australia Institute has commenced a research project looking at how structural changes in the wider economy are affecting regional economies, using forestry in Tasmania and manufacturing in North-West Melbourne as our case studies.

While our research paper will not be released for another month or so, the survey conducted for this project has revealed some interesting perceptions of the forestry industry in Tasmania.

The survey found the average Tasmanian believes forestry employs around 20 per cent of the state’s workforce when in reality it accounts for around one per cent. Similarly, while forest products account for nine per cent of Tasmania’s exports, survey respondents estimated it to be 36 per cent.

Survey respondents were also asked for their views on where the government should be prioritising its spending. Around two thirds of Tasmanians indicated they would prefer to see money spent on health, education or supporting other industries such as tourism.

Tasmania and North-West Melbourne are heavily identified by residents and the rest of Australia with forestry and manufacturing respectively. Both will experience rapid change in the coming decade and offer an opportunity to examine the future economic opportunities for regional Australia. Hopefully our research will help improve the debate about the design of industry policy in Australia.

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