Lambie and Wilkie fight Tassie freight costs

Senator Jacqui Lambie and MP Andrew Wilkie, both Tasmanian federal independents, have teamed up to fight high Bass Strait freight costs.

The ABC reports that the two parliamentarians agree that Tasmanian industry suffers from too-high transport costs and the state deserves a better freight subsidy deal.

They want the Federal Government to extend the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) so that it includes exports from Tasmania to mainland Australia.

"That will obviously cost the taxpayer more money, but the point is it will save money in the long run because as we unlock the potential in the Tasmanian economy when we get people into work and we get people into good jobs then we will diminish the reliance on other government handouts, in particular Centrelink handouts," Wilkie said.

As reports, Tasmanian Liberal Eric Hutchinson is one person from the state who disagrees with the proposal.

He called for regulatory changes made to coastal shipping between 2009 and 2012 to be overturned and said “further subsidies to prop up Tasmania’s sea freight industry” were not the solution.

However, the move to extend the TFES has wide support amongst the state’s mining, agricultural, manufacturing and smelting industries.

According to Tasmanian Logistics Committee chairman Steve Henty, the proposal would only cost the Federal Government $25 million a year and would solve the problem quickly.

He said that regulatory changes, in contrast, would take more time.