Australian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson today released figures he requested from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) in relation to the National Sea Highway concept - expanding the current Freight Equalisation Scheme (FES) in Tasmania to all goods including consumer goods, bulk freight, imports, and goods intended for exports all currently not covered by the FES.
"Tasmania's geographic isolation is its blessing and curse," said Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.
"Our remoteness and clean green image allows us to sell our products at a premium for the benefit of our primary and secondary producers, but the other side of the coin is the freight cost associated with this remoteness.
"The Greens are serious about sustainable long-term solutions to the high costs associated with Bass Strait freight and an important first step in reaching a genuine and responsible solution is to understand the size of the financial challenge.
"As part of the potential solution mix I asked the PBO to provide costings for expanding the FES to include all goods, both imports and exports, and the number provided is $2B over the forward estimates - this shows the size of the freight challenge for Tasmania.
"This is a $600M per year challenge which, when compared with the $114M per year currently received from the FES, highlights the issue of funding equity for Tasmania.
"Too often we focus on throwing more tax payer money at this problem, but what the Greens will be exploring is sustainable long-term infrastructure financing and development options.
"Freight is the most important structural problem facing our economy and as Tasmanians we must work together to find a genuine, long-term, and responsible solution.
"We should all be working together rather than focusing on short-term fixes for the purpose of electioneering," concluded Senator Whish-Wilson.
Senator Whish-Wilson will meet with the National Sea Highway Coalition later this week.