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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Tassie trails field in ratings

The Mercury: Tassie trails field in ratings [14nov05]

TASMANIA has taken the wooden spoon for state performance in social and economic policy, a new report says.

But the state remains the highest spender on national parks and wildlife services, where it spends 85 per cent above the all-states average.

Tasmania also ranks well with regard to availability of environmentally friendly products and water conservation practices.

The State of the States report, compiled by the University of New South Wales on behalf of labour-movement think-tank the Evatt Foundation, is based on data from the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Report author Christopher Sheil said the analysis was an attempt to show the general public how their state was functioning compared with the rest of the nation.

We need to create some state envy, some state competition," Dr Sheil said.

Tasmania performed poorly in the provision of family and children's services and hospital services.

In terms of transport, the state ranked first in building roads but last in regional and urban public transport.

"Tasmania retained the wooden spoon for its performance in the economic policy area. The state was last in every category apart from industry assistance where it came third," the report said.

"The largest failure, and one that augurs poorly for the future, was in fixed-capital formation, where Tasmania was 31 per cent below the all-states average."

The annual study has been conducted for the past decade, the most recent statistics coming from the 2003-04 financial year.

Dr Sheil said recent years had seen much more competition between the states with a narrower spread of the field.

Denison Labor MHA David Bartlett said Tasmania was the second most protected landmass in the world so it was no surprise the state ranked first for environmental policies.

"What is a surprise however is that the Evatt Foundation can get it so wrong economically -- either they are working from old data or they have clearly made a mistake," Mr Bartlett said.

He said that under the head of social policy Tasmania's affordable housing strategy was highly innovative and successful.



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