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Tasmania cannot afford wheat subsidy inaction.



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Michelle O’Byrne MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BASS SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR COMMUNICATIONS

PRESS RELEASE

TASMANIA CANNOT AFFORD WHEAT SUBSIDY INACTION

Hundreds of jobs and the viability of a range of Tasmanian primary and secondary industries are at risk as a result of Federal Government inaction on the Wheat Freight Subsidy Scheme, according to the Federal Member for Bass, Michelle O’Byrne.

Ms O’Byrne, who has been an active proponent of the scheme’s retention, said that Federal Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss, had done nothing regarding its future since he received the recommendations of the report, which he himself had commissioned.

“Minister Truss has obviously decided this is in the too hard basket and has delayed and delayed on doing anything about the reforms recommended by the review or to ensure that the scheme would continue, Ms O’Byrne said.

“Up to 1600 Tasmanian jobs in the pork, stockfeed, chicken, baking/milling and dairy industries are dependent on the economically viable freighting of wheat into Tasmania. If the basics of this scheme are not retained then these jobs will simply be lost to the mainland and Tasmanian workers will find themselves without a livelihood.”

Ms O’Byrne said that the Minister’s delay in responding to the report and in guaranteeing that the scheme would be continued in some form or another, showed a complete lack of regard and respect for Tasmanians.

“The Minister released the report in July 2001, announcing that he would consult with stakeholders. Since then consultation has been minimal and action non-existent,” Ms O’Byrne said.

Melbourne, 26th February 2003

Further information: Michelle O’Byrne 0417 379 562

Brian Roe 0438 604 571

Launceston Canberra

(03) 6334 8664 (02) 6277 4278