Under a proposed extension of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES), eligible businesses will receive new funding assistance for goods that are imported to Tasmania via an Australian port, where there is no direct Australian-made equivalent the Federal Government announced today.
The extension confirmed in a statement released by the Government will follow a review process to ensure that any unforeseen consequences can be addressed in a way that does not adversely affect stakeholders.
As a way of ensuring Tasmanian businesses have a level playing field with mainland counterparts, the Government said TFES would help to modernise its operations which would see it reap more benefits.
According to a statement issued by Andrew Gee Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Government would review the level of assistance currently provided to Tasmanian businesses faced with the costs of transporting high-density goods to and from the mainland.
"These improvements will be subject to a review, which is already underway, and the findings will be delivered to the Government by the end of year," he said.
"Geography should not be a barrier to prosperity and the review will consider increasing the rates to ensure the level assistance we provide for freight and high-density goods reflects current freight costs to put Tasmania’s business owners and employers on a level playing field," the release continued.
A transparent annual review process will also be instituted that will consider stakeholder submissions and publish the outcomes and underlying assumptions of reviews.
The first review is expected to commence in January 2020.
"This will ensure the TFES is working as it is intended and no Tasmanian businesses are worse-off," said Gee.
"This is a common-sense approach that will provide greater assistance to Tasmanian businesses, particularly in the state’s growing agriculture and fisheries industries," he said.
The Government will also permanently integrate into the ongoing TFES the 2016 extension, which introduced assistance for Tasmanian goods transhipped at mainland ports.
This will ensure that funding for eligible Tasmanian transhipped goods will be permanent, ongoing, uncapped and demand-driven, consistent with the overall funding approach for the TFES.
According to the Government by integrating the expansion into the ongoing TFES it would recognise that the expansion is achieving its goal of allowing Tasmanian manufacturers and primary producers to better compete with their mainland counterparts on equal terms in all markets.
The Government also acknowledged that long TFES payment processing times were adversely impacting some businesses.
"To reduce administrative burden and cut red tape for businesses, the Government will reduce the payment processing times from the date of a correctly submitted claim from 35 to 30 days," said Gee.
"To ensure TFES claims are processed as soon as possible, the Government will impose interest payments, based on the General Interest Charge rate, on late TFES payments so that businesses are not left out of pocket if a payment from Government is not made on time," he said.