NORTH Island readers of this column are hardly likely to have seen the article (with the headline: "Agriculture part of plan to secure future") , which was published on April 7 in the North West Tasmanian daily, The Advocate - it has a limited geographical spread.
The article was by Guy Barnett, our Minister for Primary Industries and Water.
I have dissected out parts of it so that you can get a flavour including:
"Agriculture is the lifeblood of our regional communities, employing more than 7500 Tasmanians, and we're on track to achieve our target of a farm-gate value of $10 billion by 2050."
The decision by the University of Tasmania to base the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture at the Newnham Campus has created the perfect opportunity for Launceston to become the first place in Australia to co-locate agricultural science, water management, industry development and bio-security functions into a single precinct.
This means the new Tasmanian Agriculture Precinct will be nation-leading, and will see existing, northern Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment staff (DPIPWE) move to the new location, bringing together the best expertise from both Government and the university into a Centre of Excellence.
Another excerpt from the article read:
"The Government will invest $15 million into contemporary research facilities at Newnham, with state-of-the-art, shared, fish and plant laboratories. We'll also move an additional 50 DPIPWE roles, making the Agricultural Precinct the headquarters for both Agriculture and Water, and also Biosecurity Tasmania.
"We'll continue to invest in satellite hubs in Hobart and the North West and continue our $7 million investment over three years to upgrade our public research farms, including leveraging $1 million of those funds to work with the fruit industry to support industry-led horticulture research, development and extension."
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Note the future tense in many of these statements.
If you already have, it won't therefore surprise you to learn that there's going to be a State Election on May 1, and the present Government has a wafer-thin majority.
It will be interesting to see what happens.
In the meantime, I decided to look more closely at what the Minister said.
In particular, I noted that more than 7500 Tasmanians are employed in agriculture.
Let's assume about 10 per cent retire each year. This gives a recruitment target of 750.
Many of these would be Secondary College leavers, so I thought that it would be informative to find out what the older students thought.
The 'Transition from School to Work or Further Study' is a hoary old chestnut, subject to countless research projects over time.
I was involved in one in 1973, but times have changed, so not having a research team and funding to back me, I decided just to take a simple straw poll at the local Secondary College.
You would like to think that Year 12 students have made up their minds about what to do when they leave, so I decided Year 11 students should be the target of just one question:
Are you considering eventually having a career in agriculture or a related industry?
- No, or
- Haven't really thought about it.
It's Easter holidays as I write, so you'll have to wait for the results.
- Contact Dr Mike Walker: firstname.lastname@example.org