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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 4077

Mr LYONS (Bass) (09:38): I rise today to again talk about an important issue in my electorate of Bass in Northern Tasmania, that being the current state of container shipping from the port of Bell Bay. Last year, the previous international container-shipping company ceased their operations out of the Bell Bay port. This has resulted in containers now being transported by road to Burnie for shipping out of the state to Melbourne. As a result of this, dramatically increasing costs have occurred for northern bound freight to both mainland and international ports. On top of this, the Liberal state government in Victoria has imposed a port tax. The Liberals' tax is $74 million imposed on Tasmania, which is exacerbating the hardship that Tasmanian exporters are currently experiencing. I call on Will Hodgman, the Liberal leader in Tasmania, to get his Liberal colleagues in Victoria to remove this Liberal tax on Tasmanians. I have had discussions with business and industry representatives in Bass on this important matter. Consequently I, together with my federal Tasmanian parliamentary colleagues, have raised the urgency of this situation with the federal ministers. A suitable solution to this situation must be found as a matter of urgency to ensure that continued exporting of quality Northern Tasmanian products to the mainland and internationally continues.

While being an island state brings its benefits and advantages, it also has its shortfalls. There are already high costs of shipping, without added costs of transport by road to Burnie for the industrial hub of Bell Bay. The cost of moving freight to Burnie is contributing to the demise of manufacturing in Tasmania. The people and businesses of the north of Tasmania are hardworking and innovative. In order to remain resilient into the future, obstacles such as unacceptable freight costs and the unavailability of international shipping out of Bell Bay port are causing a level of economic uncertainty.

I and my federal Tasmanian Labor colleagues are determined in our collective efforts to ensure a fair and equitable outcome to the current container-shipping costs of Northern Tasmania. Tasmanian exporters are incurring unacceptable freight costs for their products and also incurring additional road costs. The road transporting of containers through the Frankford Highway to the Burnie port will cause unacceptable wear and tear on roads that were never designed for such high-level heavy vehicle movements, which is a burden to all Tasmanians which must be rectified. I call on all parties to find a fix for this burden in Tasmanian freight so that Tasmania continues to be an exporter of quality products.