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Senator Jacqui Lambie has called on the government to include
Bass Strait as part of the National Highway in order to cut freight costs to
The Advocate reports that Palmer United Party Senator Lambie
used her maiden speech to parliament to say that the Federal Government should
be responsible for addressing the high freight costs faced by Tasmanian businesses.
“If Tasmania is to be treated fairly as a state of
Australia, the cost of transporting both domestic and international bound goods
in containers (machinery, food, fuel) between Hobart and Melbourne should be no
more than the cost of transporting a container on a semi-trailer between
Melbourne and Wagga Wagga on the Hume Highway,” she said.
She said that high transport costs have “strangled” the
Tasmanian economy and added, “…If the powers that control the treasury benches
in this place don’t want an army of Jacqui Lambies in this place speaking
uncomfortable truths and challenging them in the future, then fix the Bass
Strait Transport Cost crisis.”
The Tasmanian Government confirmed in last month’s budget it
would offer a three-year, $33 million subsidy to resume direct international
freight to Asia.
However according to Leigh Titmus, a member of the former
Freight Logistics Coordination Team and ex-managing director of agribusiness
Webster Limited, extending the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme would be a
better way to handle the issue.
He told the Advocate a direct link to Asia was not the best
outcome for all exporters.
He said there was not a “one cap fits all’ solution to the
problem and agreed with Senator Lambie that Bass Strait should be considered
part of the National Highway.