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Infrastructure and Transport - Freight Equalisation Scheme

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tags: Freight Equalisation Scheme, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I am interested in understanding the level of Commonwealth freight equalisation scheme funds that have come into the state over the past year. In the 2020-21 year, in Subsidies and Concessions, page 361, shipping and ferry subsidies are broken down. Are you able to disaggregate out of that what is the Commonwealth freight equalisation scheme quantum? And is it possible, and I'm happy to write this out and put it on notice, or you can tell me in the same answer, to have that quantum for the past four years?

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you for the question. Obviously, the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme is a vital product to support Tasmanian businesses and our cost of living here. We are a big supporter of it and, without drawing out the commission for too long, I was thrilled to see the TFES expanded as of 1 July this year to allow for subsidies for imported goods not made in Australia, a very good outcome and one the freight sector, in particular, has been advocating for on behalf of its clients.

I have data here for the years but I do not have it for retrospective. I wonder, Mr Blake, if you could advise the committee what you can, and what we don't have we can take on notice.

Mr BLAKE - I 'm afraid we might have to take that on notice and provide that to you. We have only brought the forward Estimates which are provisions, given that you cannot accurately predict how much exactly it is. What 's in the Budget papers are provisions for those payments. We would have to get back to you on exactly how much the Commonwealth has expended.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay, I will write that out. Minister, can you confirm if we are still shipping whole logs in containers and accessing the freight equalisation scheme to subsidise that?

Mr FERGUSON - We won't take it on notice; we'll come back to the committee during the day with that.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why won't you take it on notice?

Mr FERGUSON - Because I don't need to. I will have it for you today. I am offering to give it to you sooner.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister. I will remind you. And when you do that, could you please provide the committee with the quantum of funds that attach to each container?

Mr FERGUSON - If I have access to that information. I don't know if I will.

Mr BLAKE - We should get that for her.

Mr FERGUSON - We will get that to the committee. And when I say 'I won't take it on notice, I'll provide it today', what it means is I won't make you write the letter and I won't take longer to answer.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you.

Mr FERGUSON - Usually people say thanks.

CHAIR - I think he was being helpful, Ms O'Connor.

Ms O'CONNOR - And I did thank him.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I want to point out that this feels like a very long Estimates on Infrastructure and Transport, at four hours long. We have been talking about roads for a very long time today. I note that this afternoon we are being asked to crimp on Housing because State Growth apparently needs to be here for you to talk about state development and construction. We may only end up with an hour or an hour-and-a-half on Housing. To me -

CHAIR - To clarify, Ms O'Connor, the time we spend on Housing is to be determined by the committee itself. There's two-and-a-half hours for Housing and State Development. If the committee chooses to have half-an-hour on State Development and two hours on Housing, that's what we'll do. Nobody is being asked to crimp on the amount of time we spend on Housing.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Chair. The crimp was in when the Estimates schedule was put forward and there wasn't enough time allocated toward Housing.

Minister, did you come back to the committee with information about whether we're still shipping whole logs or woodchips in containers and, if so, what's the TFES subsidy for each container of wood products?

Mr FERGUSON - I have answered that question.

CHAIR - All the questions the minister committed to come back to the committee with before lunch were read into Hansard straight after the lunch break.