OP-ED: Opportunity Knocks for Tasmanian Lifestyle

Thursday 21 January 2020, The Examiner


“Home sweet home” is a song from the opera Clari, Maid of Milan, first performed in London’s Convent Garden in 1823. The last verse of the song proclaims ‘no more from the cottage again will I roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home, home! Home, sweet home”.

Fast forward to 1985 and heavy metal Los Angeles band Motley Crue in their take of a song with the same title ended their version with “I’m on my way, Just set me free, Home sweet home”. The Motley Crue version came from their album Theatre of Pain and how appropriate is that album title considering the year we have just endured? Theatre of pain is an understatement in most parts of the world in 2020.

When you look back over the past 12 months the words that come to mind are pandemic, COVID, virus, unprecedented, social distancing, quarantine, shut down, border closures – words of fear and isolation.

Here in Tasmania, and more particularly in my home sweet home of Launceston, those words don’t seem to have the same meaning as in other parts of the globe. I can’t help but feel how lucky I am to live in Tasmania’s northern capital. You just have to turn on the news or open the newspaper to be assaulted by the carnage that COVID was and still is creating worldwide.

You read about China flexing its substantial muscle, or Spain not only struggling with COVID but also having to deal with the biggest snowfalls in 50 years. The UK is trying to come to terms with Brexit and a more contagious strain of COVID, and what can you say about the political turmoil in the USA.

Closer to home, North Queensland has been grappling with flood waters thanks to cyclones and tropical storms while parts of sourthern Queensland are still in the grip of what seems to be an everlasting drought. Drive south of the border, if it’s not closed, and you come to NSW where you will be confronted with life under COVID leading to shut downs, mask-wearing, and the like. The Sydney Cricket Test against India which normally would have spectators stretching the seams of the SCG looked more like a ‘Where’s Wally’ children’s book – find the crowd!

The first ever test match in Australia at the SCG between England and Australia in February 1882 was likely played before more spectators. Further south, we see Victoria falling victim to what COVID has to offer. I won’t go on, other than to say how lucky we are to live on the 26th largest island in the world, otherwise known as Tasmania.

Tasmania is being seen as a safe haven to work, raise a family and enjoy life without the restrictions and uncertainty of other places in Australia, let alone the world. It wasn’t long ago that many people were searching interstate for greener pastures. Not any more, as Tasmanians are staying home and not as anxious to travel interstate or overseas for work or a change of lifestyle.

There is also a growing interest from people interstate who are looking to migrate here to not only escape the regular COVID flare ups but also the rat race of mainland life. COVID has shown us that people can work from home and not be tied to an office desk in Melbourne, Sydney or any other capital city.

I witnessed this last week when speaking to an interstate acquaintance who was enjoying beach life on Tasmania’s east coast armed with an iPad. He was in the process of preparing a quote for a mainland customer. In a world of uncertainty and fear Tasmania was where he was holidaying with his family and doing business on beach with an iPad, towel and sunscreen.

I know this sounds too good to be true, and cannot always be the case for working Australians, but it shows that opportunities have arisen as a result of the virus and some are exploring whether there is a better way to mix work with family and leisure. Many are seriously considering whether this can be done in Tasmania. It’s about lifestyle and life in our state takes some beating.

Launceston, a city with a mix of old and new, steeped in history has the iconic Cataract Gorge with its panoramic views and walking trails, the Tamar Valley with its vineyards stretching along the Tamar River, (let’s not mention the mud), and many historic landmarks within easy reach.

Launceston importantly has that one aspect that sets it apart from a number of other cities – it’s welcoming and friendly people. In summary, it has plenty to offer. The lyrics say it all: “home sweet home”.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

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