Red Tape and Whisky

Nov 1

Every good company has a founding mythology. A lot of people in Hobart know Bill Lark’s story. He was fishing with his wife and friends in the late 1980s, drinking whisky, when it hit him.

Why wasn’t anyone making whisky in Tasmania?

This place has it all, he realised: “rich fields of barley, an abundance of wonderfully pure soft water, highland peat bogs and the perfect climate to bring all the ingredients together in a marriage of science, art, and passion.”

From one distillery to an entire industry, people around the world are now cheersing’ Tasmanian whisky. It’s so good, in fact, that a whisky from Sullivans Cove won best single malt in the world a few years ago. “We sell scotch to the Scots,” is a phrase we heard a lot.

What you adore about Lark’s story is how he worked with the government to change an old and unfair law preventing small-scale distilling — a simple move that launched an industry.

You’re imaginative about it. How many other out-dated laws and regulations could change, allowing new businesses, inventions and events to launch in Hobart?

It’s a bit of a cliché: cutting red tape. We say it, though in our interviews few of you could point to examples of how red tape got in the way of anyone’s success. Most of you think Airbnb, Uber and food trucks are good things, opportunities for more people to launch businesses while sharing local culture with visitors.

What you’d like are ways for regular people with ideas to be welcomed — not blocked — by the keepers of laws, rules, and regulations. Not everyone is as relentless or as connected as Bill Lark.

Some ideas, of course, are terrible. Some businesses are exploitative and damaging. But the vast majority of Hobartians who want to start something new are worthy of our support.

You talked about creating a concierge service, someone who helps entrepreneurs of all sorts refine and launch their ideas, someone who helps us navigate legislation and arrive not only at “yes” but a more Hobartian version of it.

Could Hobart be the best place in Australia to launch a new idea or enterprise? How?