Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Andrew Gee, this week concluded the consultation process regarding proposed changes to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) in Launceston.
Mr Gee said there were positive and constructive conversations with stakeholders on the proposal to expand the TFES Scheme to include goods imported to Tasmania via a mainland port, where no Australian manufactured equivalents exist.
Currently the TFES scheme excludes assistance for goods imported to Australia from overseas which have not undergone a manufacturing process on the mainland.
“Over the past week we held Australian Government forums in Launceston, Devonport and Hobart,” Mr Gee said.
“I also met with the Tasmanian Logistics Committee and representatives from TasPorts.”
“The purpose was to make sure that if the scheme is expanded, there are no unintended impacts for Tasmanian or mainland manufacturers.
“There has been strong support for the expansion of the TFES and there were no show-stoppers in terms of industries or companies saying we shouldn’t be going down this path,” Mr Gee noted.
“Local businesses have however raised some important issues that would need to be addressed. These include the need for a simple and efficient process for determining whether there is an Australian-made equivalent, and also what is to happen in cases where an Australian-made equivalent may theoretically exist, but in reality can’t be supplied in the volumes or grades required.”
Mr Gee said the sessions were extremely positive and the Australian Government will take all of the suggestions on board in making a decision on the proposed expansion of the TFES – which should occur in early 2020.
“I’d like to thank all of the individuals, businesses and organisations that participated in the consultation process. It will crucial in ensuring that if the scheme is expanded, it operates in the most user-friendly way possible for Tasmanians, and that it doesn’t adversely affect Aussie jobs and manufacturing,” Mr Gee stressed.
“We want to make sure that if we go ahead with ramping up TFES in this way, we get it right the first time.”
“Besides the constructive conversations we’ve had on improving the TFES, the other thing which shone through in the consultation process was the very positive attitude to economic activity and growth in Tasmania.
“You can feel the economic momentum down here – Tassie industry certainly has plenty of mojo at the moment, which augurs well for the future. We want to make sure that Tasmania continues to have every opportunity to compete on a level playing field with the mainland,” Mr Gee concluded.
The proposed expansion of the TFES Scheme to include goods imported to Tasmania via an Australian port where there is no Australian-made equivalent follows recently announced TFES improvements to:
- Increase assistance for high density goods to 100 per cent,
- Reduce claim processing time from 35 days to 30 days, and
- Introduce interest on late payments beyond the 30 days
These three elements were introduced on 1 October and have already made a big impact on the Tasmanian freight industry.