14 May 2015
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, is urging the Prime Minister to act to stop the Port of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government “ripping off’’ the exporters of Tasmania with their sky-rocketing port fees and ever-increasing licence fee.
In response to a question from Mr Wilkie in Question Time today, Tony Abbott acknowledged the Victorian Government was “slugging’’, “penalising’’ and “ripping off’’ the exporters of Tasmania through ever-increasing fees and charges at the Port of Melbourne.
Mr Wilkie said the next step was for the Federal Government – which has committed an extra $202 million into Bass Strait equalisation – to act to stop the Port of Melbourne pocketing the subsidies in sky-rocketing port fees.
“The Federal Government must use every power available to it to make sure the subsidies help Tasmanian exporters and don’t end up in the pockets of logistics companies and the Victorian Government,’’ Mr Wilkie said.
Mr Wilkie said the Port of Melbourne was set to increase fees by as much as an 800 per cent hike on top of the $75-million Port Licence Fee the Victorian Government imposed in 2012, which is indexed each year and already estimated to cost Tasmanian exporters $13 million a year.
“The Licence Fee imposed by the Victorian Government is a tax on interstate trade and unconstitutional,’’ Mr Wilkie said. “The previous Tasmanian Government was of that view but too spineless to act.
“It’s beyond time for the Prime Minister to lead on this issue and for the Federal Government to intervene and bring the shysters in Victoria to heel by forcing them to drop their fees and the unconstitutional tax.’’