Hodgman Govt Works Towards An Extension Of TFES

Hodgman Govt Works Towards An Extension Of TFES

Tasmania Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding

Hypocrisy In International Shipping Criticism

Victor P Taffa

Labor’s criticism of our international shipping policy progress is hypocritical. It was on Labor’s watch that Tasmania lost our only direct international shipping link, leading to increased freight costs and job losses, Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding said.

“They then did nothing for years until, in the shadows of a looming election and forced to respond to Liberal leadership on this matter, they cobbled together a limp, unfunded response.”

“In contrast, the Hodgman Government took decisive action to reintroduce an international shipping service from Tasmania to key Asian ports and committed up to $33 Million over three years to work with the market and find a viable, long term sustainable solution for our exporters.”

 

 

 

 

“We are progressing this policy because a direct service will assist many Tasmanian businesses with both import and export freight and will provide direct port access to important Asian markets. We simply cannot delay progress on this matter by waiting for potential policy changes in other areas. It has always been known that not all exporters will use a direct service.” Mr. Hidding said.

“The key to a clear understanding of our policy is that a solution to the high cost of export shipping must occur one way or the other and that a direct service or an extension of TFES (Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme) need not be mutually exclusive.”

“From day one, the Tasmanian Government has been lobbying the Federal Government for an extension of the Bass Strait scheme to all north-bound freight, at the current rates of assistance.” Mr. Hidding said.

“Industry lobby groups have been calling for the same level of extension to the TFES. This would cost the Federal Government between $25-30 Million extra p.a. and they have given no indication of new funds being available.”

“The Federal Government has made it clear to us that any changes to the TFES need to be within the existing funding envelope – that is the current Federal Budget forward estimates, which contain no increase.”

“Our discussions with the Federal Government will remain ongoing. We must not become paralysed like Labor and the Greens were and we must, therefore, advance the only available option to assist our exporters.” Mr. Hidding said.

“This means progressing our election commitment to re-establish a viable and sustainable direct international shipping service.”

Background – PC Report and TFES Scheme

Currently, the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme only covers some north-bound freight – it does not apply to goods destined for export to other countries.

The rates of payment in the current scheme for Bass Strait freight are different for different claimants.

The Productivity Commission Inquiry Report on Tasmanian Shipping and Freight did suggest that an extension to TFES to include all northbound freight should be considered (Recommendation 6), but only in the context of Recommendation 2, a change in the structure of the existing scheme to a flat rate of assistance.

The PC Report recommendations that the Scheme be changed to a flat rate of assistance and extended to cover export freight would lead to significantly lower rates of assistance for many existing Tasmanian businesses in order to accommodate the inclusion of export freight.

This means there would be some new recipients of assistance, but this would come at the expense of many existing Tasmanian business recipients, which is not acceptable to the Tasmanian Government.