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Geographical change in Tasmanian agriculture during the Great Depression

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Kellaway, RG (1989) Geographical change in Tasmanian agriculture during the Great Depression. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

One indicator of a stagnant economy has been a slow rate of
population growth . If Tasmania had been able to retain its natural increase
between the first postwar census in 1921 and the second in 1933 , the fmal'
population would have been 256,170 . The recorded populatIon was only
227,599 . The difference was a result of out-migration during the 1920s .
The flow across Bass Strait was sufficient in one period , 192 3 / 24 to
1 926/27 inclusive , to cancel the natural increase and reduce the population
of the state . The poor performance of agriculture was seen as the central
factor in the process of economic decline . Report after report condemned
farming as backward, inefficient and disorganised and called for a
restructuring of the rural economy as the first step in overcoming the
state 1 s chronic problems of low incomes and population loss .
The initial strategy of agricultural reform was defined by Dr . S . S .
Cameron , Director of the Victorian Department of Agriculture . Cameron
had been brought to Tasmania in 1 92 5 by the Labour government of J . A .
Lyons to examine the deteriorating agricultural situation . He concluded
that the principal aim of agricultural development should be to increase the
output of commodities that had a proven export record from Australia ( e . g .
wool , wheat , lamb , fruit and butter ) or that could be worked up into a
profitable export trade such as peas or eggs . Efficiency in production and
marketing was to be stressed . Crops that were produced primarily for the
domestic market ( potatoes , barley , hops ) were to be reduced .
The Department of Agriculture was reorganised and given a mandate to
bring Tasmanian agriculture up to the Australian norm . It followed the
Cameron plan with the exception that livestock enterprises were favoured
over cropping in order to restore fertility to the depleted farmlands of the
Northwest Coast and North Midlands . Considerable progress was made along
these lines before the rural economy was overcome by the collapse of
commodity prices in CX:tober 1 929 .
This study has been structured as a developmental narrative .
Statistical and archival sources have been brought together to investigate
the evolution of farming systems between 1 926/27 and 1 936/ 3 7 . The
thesis begins with an overview of the agricultural situation in the
mid-1 920s . Agricultural reglons are defined for 1 926/27 usmg both the
Weaver method and cluster analysis on derived estimates of net farm income
at the municipality level . The body of the thesis examines

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

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Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2013 01:13
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:55
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