In addition to the way we pulled together as a community, strong leadership and a strong economy have so far allowed us to weather COVID-19 without the same degree of devastation witnessed in places like Italy. Nonetheless, it is precisely these things which must change in order for Tasmania to build back better.

Leadership needs to become less politicised, more impactful and more about people. Throughout the crisis we have seen plenty of examples of the usual politics and bureaucracy being set to one side in the name of getting on with the job and doing what needs to be done. Without compromising proper process or civil liberties, we must retain the best of that approach so that as we rebuild the economy, we do so efficiently and effectively, and in a way that ensures local needs and expertise trump capital city politics and bureaucracy.

Our economy too, must change. While we went into this crisis in a good position, we would be foolish not to recognise how perilously close we came to further disaster. Manufacturers and healthcare workers in particular, adapted with lightning speed; nurses and doctors worked around the clock to ensure we never actually ran out of beds and manufacturers – including some in our own backyard – re-tooled and produced vital medical supplies that we were unable to bring in from overseas. This highlights how lucky we have been, how reliant on imports we’ve become and how important it is to diversify our economy and support local manufacturing.

As we turn our minds towards reimagining and rebuilding our economy, boosting local manufacturing must be a priority. More local manufacturing would be good for jobs, society and the environment, because Australia can make products that are better, safer and more sustainable than many imported alternatives. It would reduce our reliance on imports and allow us to better withstand the impacts of global conflict, unfavourable trade conditions, future pandemics and other crises.

The Cradle Coast region in particular, boasts a proud manufacturing heritage and a future focused manufacturing industry. We have manufacturing workers, equipment and training facilities that are world class, and are underpinned by a globally recognised brand and an endless supply of renewable energy. Manufacturers in our region should be supported to produce more of the things Australians need.

Let’s not only make Tasmania the “Battery of the nation”, let’s make Tasmania the “Factory of the nation” too.

Daryl Connelly, Chief Executive Officer at the Cradle Coast Authority