#WTF2050: What’s Tasmania’s future?

First published in The Examiner, 15 April 2018

By 2050, everyone everywhere will have the right to thrive. (Yep, utopia).

All communities are changing all the time. 

The future of our Tasmanian community is not like a book that has already been written, each chapter is emergent & authorship is our collective responsibility. The narrative of our future is most often written by the powerful. And the powerful have a vested interested in ensuring new chapters help conserve past few victories. 

With this in mind, when imagining this new Tasmanian utopia of 2050, it is useful to ask who is allowed to participate in writing these chapters. The illiterate? The vulnerable? Traditional owners? If you are not included in the story, you will become invisible and you won’t thrive. 

Inclusion is key and the best protection for the right to thrive - it is harder to hurt someone when you know their story.

Tasmania is roughly the size of Ireland. Yet has half the population of the municipality of Parramatta in Sydney. 

Ours is an island of ‘firsts’: First novel published in Australia; first exhibition of paintings; first compulsory state education system; first state to formally apologise to Aboriginal people. And, 42 per cent of the island is World Heritage listed – everywhere close to pristine environments; cleanest air; cleanest rainfall in the world, all in reach of this sustainable population. 

Yet what we hear most are the problems to be fixed. 

The poorest state. The falling population. The low high school retention. The end of primary industry. The loss of community. The lack of a permanent AFL team, (well, that last one is serious…)

Recently people have been talking about the positive MONA effect. We weren’t expecting it because our new chapters are supposed to be negative. 

MONA is part of a disconcerting new chapter, which is bringing a new tide of gobsmacked mainlanders who cannot believe how good it is here.

Our important stories run deep. They are not written by the media, or retail politics. Stories are like the current in the river of culture, the media etc., are the ripples on the surface. Culture is the deep flowing life of this state. It is how we thrive, and we need to include everyone.

Whatever the list for #WTF2050, they will be relatively simple things to change – poverty, literacy, climate change, high school retention. They all come back to the ‘right for everyone, everywhere to thrive’. 

A person’s right to thrive is actually the right to be included, protected and supported.

Our narrative has to be more welcoming, unafraid of change, encouraging people to come, encouraging our children to leave and return.

Thriving is less reliant on fiscal success than we think. 

If there is one city groaning under the pain of not being able to thrive, it is Sydney – a city of work addicted drones, driving bumper to bumper back to the burbs.

In the words of Churchill. Success is not final, and failure is never fatal. The story keeps getting rewritten. 

The ideas today for #WTF2050 may look naïve when we get to 2050. However, we probably will be able to measure success by who was given the chance to thrive.

  • Tasmanian of the Year 2018 and founder of BighArt Scott Rankin wrote this piece for The Australia Institute’s #WTF2050 project. For more information, visit WTF2050.org.au