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 Tasmania.
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.