13 March 2015
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has welcomed the $203m expansion to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme as a good first step to reduce the crippling cost of Bass Strait.
“This will go some way to releasing the greatest economic brake on Tasmania’s economy,’’ Mr Wilkie said.
Mr Wilkie said he was pleased the Federal Government had recognised the value of the Scheme and rejected the Productivity Commission’s misguided view that it lacks economic rationale, and the National Commission of Audit’s recommendation to abolish freight equalisation.
However he cautioned that today’s announcement looked like a political fix to save the seats of the three amigos and further investment would be needed to remove the prohibitive expense of Bass Strait.
Mr Wilkie has lobbied successive federal governments on the need to reduce the crippling cost of Bass Strait and is still due to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the issue on Thursday in Canberra.
“The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme provides some subsidies but they’re inadequate and full of holes,’’ he said.
“Today’s announcement plugs the international export hole, but we still need a sensible subsidy for all passengers, vehicles and freight to remove Tasmania’s geographic disadvantage. Yes funding to the Scheme will need to increase. But in the long term Canberra will save money as Tasmanian businesses are turbo charged and more people are employed, resulting in less need for federal handouts to Tasmania in other areas.’’