The Hobart

Is Interstate Migration The Key To Tassie’s Covid-19 Recovery?

by Stephanie Williams
Is Interstate Migration The Key To Tassie’s Covid-19 Recovery?

Bums on aeroplane seats is one thing, but attracting a legion of people who will enhance life on the island will ensure long term prosperity.

If this whole coronavirus thing has taught us one thing, it’s that the only thing certain in life is change. It’s also shown us how quickly businesses, governments and people can act when push comes to shove. Earlier this year would you have thought the majority of us would be working at home, implemented within a couple of weeks? Or that childcare would be free (albeit temporarily)? Or that Newstart payments could double overnight?

With this fast paced change comes opportunity and Tassie is sitting in a prime position to capitalise on some aspects of the covid fallout. COVID-19 has held a mirror up to our lives and shown us what’s important and what not to take for granted – family, friends, lifestyle, work and finances. Many people haverealised they can work from anywhere and forward-thinking businesses are supporting their employees to do this longer term – none of us know when this might all be over or a second and consequent waves might hit.

It begs the question – if you could live where you love, rather than live where you work, would you? For many mainlanders, Tassie will now be an option.

Migration is a key pillar of economic growth and something that Tassie has traditionally struggled with. There’s a population drain once kids leave school and, in the past, were never to be seen again. This is slowly changing with more Tassie boomerangs returning to the island with their partners and kids. But when you look at net migration figures, it tells a different story. In September 20181 net interstate migration was 538people and gradually declined over the year until September 2019, when it was down to 138. When you consider a person may pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax over their lifetime, we need more people in the early to mid stages of their careers to boost our economic growth.

It begs the question - if you could live where you love, rather than live where you work, would you? For many mainlanders, Tassie will now be an option.

Covid-19 has put a dampener on internationals moving here for now, but there’s an opportunity to attract people who will contribute to Tasmania’s long term growth, in particular millennials young families. According to the Regional Australia Institute millennials (20-35-year-olds) are of particular value, as they represent families as well as early-to-mid career professionals and tradespersons, all of whom can boost the human and social capital of regional communities. Perhaps not surprisingly, the RAI found regionally-based millennials were much more inclined than city-based millennials to move to more isolated or remote places in general.

Many young families and professionals are evaluating how to “live their best life” and Tassie has got to be near the top of their list. Clean air? Tick. Good schools? Tick. Affordable real estate? Tick (if you’re from the big city). More incredible outdoors than you can ever imagine? Tick, tick, tick! Tasmania is perceived as clean, green and virus-free, at a time when people are evaluating what is important in their lives.

Tasmania’s ageing population is putting pressure on the health system. Sorry boomers. So there’s a need to attract younger residents in the prime of their working lives, to reset the demo-graphic balance and line the coffers. The rst step is wooingthem down here for holidays, make it easy for them to get an accurate feel of what Tassie is about (not just a Pollyanna, tourist take) and support them in making the decision to relocate. Supporting innovative ways of attracting new Tasmanians is the next step in the process.

1 Source: Australian Demographic Statistics, ABS CAT NO 3101.0: TABLES 2, 16A, 16B

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February 2024

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