Federal Labor promises assistance for Tasmanian freight costs

The federal government has pledged to provide Tasmanian exporters with $20 million worth of assistance to help send goods across Bass Straight.

As the ABC reports, the Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, made the announcement in Launceston this morning.

The figure of $20 million will be matched by $20 million from the Tasmanian state government.
Most of this $40 million will be in the form of grants for projects to grow freight volumes and improve land-based logistics for Tasmanian manufacturers.

According to the chair of the Freight Logistics Coordination Team, Phil Clark, the funds will be a great help with reducing freight costs. He said that the assistance "gives us some time to come up with a really sustainable model which will work in the future."

The Mercury points out that Tasmania’s only international shipping service, at Bell Bay, closed in 2011. Since that time, Tasmanian exporters have faced steep freight costs.

According to Tasmanian Transport Minister David O'Byrne the package had the backing of Tasmanian exporters.

"It is the first time in a generation that work of this kind and significance has occurred and that is why industry has supported it," he said.

The Federal Opposition policy is to implement a joint Productivity Commission and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission review of Tasmania's shipping costs, the competitiveness of Tasmania"s freight industry structure and improving the equity and effectiveness of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation and Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation schemes.

Now in opposition, the Tasmanian Liberal Party has pledged $33 million to directly fund a restarted international shipping service between Tasmania and Asia.

Image: The Hobart Mercury

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