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Thursday, 24 May 2012
Page: 5581


Mr SIDEBOTTOM (BraddonParliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (09:39): Late last year the sole international shipping container service from Tasmania ceased and many of our exporters, of course, could not directly transport their goods internationally. On 22 March of this year, the Australian government announced, particularly through the advocacy of my federal colleagues and me, along with the Tasmanian government, and the advocacy of a number of exporters and vegetable processors—in particular in Tassie—that the Tasmanian government, and therefore the community, would be provided with $20 million in one-off funding to assist Tasmanian exporters to access international markets. Today we are giving more substance to that announcement by proposing the following: of the $20 million, some $14.5 million will be directed towards immediate and direct assistance to Tasmanian exporters through a one-off payment to assist them to maintain competitiveness in the new shipping environment. Apart from the loss of the AAA international container service itself, there is the high Australian dollar, and of course the Port of Melbourne has increased its fees dramatically in that time. Of course, with surpluses in Europe in particular, our exporters have been greatly affected. So this will go a long way to assisting them in the export market.

We are also investing in infrastructure improvements at the port of Burnie in my electorate to increase container-handling capacity and enhance the efficiency of movements within the port—indeed, in the longer term, driving down costs to exporters. We are also going to establish a freight logistics coordination team with an industry leadership. That is directed towards investigating in far more detail with the Tasmanian community—particularly those people that use the services and the providers, along with the Tasmanian government—a strategic plan towards the logistics and the infrastructure required for better transport. So I congratulate my colleagues and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, and also the Prime Minister, who personally and directly involved herself in the creation of this $20 million transition and assistance package.