One policy change, one solution

Hello my name is Grant Kenny, I live in the city of Burnie on the Northwest Coast of Tasmania Australia. I want to share with you a bit about my day on Friday. I woke up and it was work as usual, upon arriving at work there was talk of a meeting that had been called for later in the day and there was speculation running ramped all day in regards to what the meeting was about.

Towards the end of the day we gathered and it was announced that the company was relocating its operations to Thailand, costing 280 jobs directly and most likely a far greater amount of indirect jobs. Later in the evening I mentioned to one of the local Alderman’s that maybe is time that the local government should look at its policies regarding multiple dwellings on one property for those that would like to start organic and permaculture share based business and he agreed.

At this moment government bodies at all levels are gathering in crisis mode, assembling task forces to find solutions. As to what they come up with and to whether it’s a sustainable solution, who knows. What I know being involved in permaculture, Transition Burnie, Landshare Tasmania and the newly formed group that came out of APC12 Permaculture Landshare Australia, is that there is a lot of land out there being underutilized and Tasmania has some of the best growing regions in the world with its moderate to cool climate, volcanic soils and good average rainfall.

community2To rebuild a community it’s going to take more than one solution, it’s going to take a number and all aspects should be looked at. I am usually one of those people that have worked alone in the past for solutions to problems I have encountered and have come to realize that I can no longer do this. So for the first time I am asking for help.

After talking to a number of land owners that are interested in inviting others on to their land to work towards something collectively the biggest thing stopping this from happening is the current policies regarding multiple dwelling on the one property and all the hoops and expense you have to go through to make this happen.

While all this is going on in the local area I see an opportunity to put a case forward, that by changing one policy to allow a more assessable entry for those that want to collectively start a organic or permaculture based business. To do this I need your support, and all I ask for is your thoughts, by either one or two ways, I have composed the following questions that I would like you to address one or more of them, you can do this by writing them in or doing a self video recording that i can use for a video presentation (mini documentary). And forward them to northernsustainable@gmail.com

If the policies were changed to allow more assessable entry for joint venture permaculture and organic projects in Tasmania. How would this benefit the local economy?

What type of business opportunities could be added into a share system structure?

How could it create employment opportunities? What supporting business opportunities could there be – e.g. tiny home, cabin, shipping container home manufacturing?

Would this policy change entice you to invest in a project in Tasmania and how would you do so?

Are there any other benefits you see from such a policy change?

If you are involved in an organization or project please feel free to add that to your submission. Also for those of you that are local i would like a get together at some point to discuss this further.

Here is my expanded thoughts from information gathered and proposals that local council members are thinking and putting forward.

I have some concerns here.. In 2006 the Rodale Institute in Philadelphia conducted a study on the economics of organic spin farming the study was to see if a 1/2 acre plot could produce $25000 US gross and they surpassed this, on the third season they had a target of $50,000 for the same area and grossed $52,000. after some time they noted the following examples :

  • a 5,000-square-foot part-time hobby farm model that generates $10,000 to 20,000 in gross annual sales;
  • a 20,000-square-foot intermediate full-time farm model that generates $54,000 annually;
  • a 1-acre full-time model that brings in $50,000 to 65,000.

In 2012 the Australian Organic Report noted that within that year the Australian organic market was worth 1.27 billion dollars with an annual growth rate of 11- 15%, that may have increased due to there being a lot of focus on GMO foods recently. Market demand is higher than the current output just reading the 2014 report and it says that demand is out stripping supply by 40% and in 2014 it made $1.75b meaning that there is a $0.7b annual gap that needs to be filled
Currently Australia is importing $225m of organic food annually to try and fill the gap in demand.

It would take 7000 families producing $100,000 of produce to fill current demand.

What concerns me is that the community is building a consensus that Burnie is becoming a place for wealthy retirees that relies on tourism for the local economy and reading though the proposals local councilors are coming up with, it frightens me to think has the city layed down and excepted this and are they going to throw all there eggs into one basket.

Recently i had the opportunity to speak with 2 of the worlds leading economists Dr Benjamin Habib from LaTrobe University and Nicole Foss author of The Automatic Earth and what it takes to build a sustainable economical community, First and foremost we need to GFC proof our economy, Even though tourism is important to our economy its not a GFC proof solution alone, particularly when you look at other places that rely on this, for example Byron Bay the most visited place in Australia that also has an unemployment rate of above 20%. It just seems all ass about face to me, turning Burnie into a museum of the industries that once thrived here.

The Burnie City Council can spend all there money now on attracting tourism, But in reality large industry don’t care about pretty, they are not likely to move to place, just because it looks pretty, What they care about is the available skills, market accessibility and if they throw all their eggs into this tourism basket now, we wont have these to offer in the future.

It seems that local government is blind to the opportunity’s and the resources we have now. There is a $0.7b annual market out there up for grabs and we have the resources to capture it and by structuring it under a fair share system it would keep the money circulating within the community, rather than it being accumulated by one entity, this builds a strong local economy, provides 7000 families with an opportunity to bring in $100,000 a year. We need to strengthen our local economy first, then we have the resources to build our city into the place we envision.

Submitted by: Grant Kenny

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