Tasmanian transport infrastructure has received a much-needed boost with hundreds of millions of
dollars flowing to the state to bring its logistic capability into the 22nd century.

Hot on the heels of confirmation of more than $52 million in upgrades to Hobart and Launceston airports, comes the news that the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme will be extended to exporters of products from the state, to the tune of another $50 million a year across four years.

As well, more than $400 million in commitments will see the Midland Highway upgraded over the forward estimates, and $30 million for spruiking up the two Spirit of Tasmania vessels.

The transport infrastructure upgrades will stimulate export markets, boost tourism numbers, increase Tasmania’s profile as an Antarctic hub and overcome the north-south divide with better road access.

TCCI chief executive officer Michael Bailey said the investment in transport infrastructure across the state was a positive sign.

‘‘I congratulate both the federal and state governments for coming good on their promises of delivering our infrastructure needs,’’ Mr Bailey said.

In March, the federal government announced a $203 million extension to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, offering welcome support to Tasmanian businesses.

From January 1 2016, the scheme will be extended to goods going to markets not currently covered by it.

Tasmanian businesses selling these goods will be able to claim $700 per shipping container. Shippers from King Island and the Furneaux Group of Islands will also be eligible for a 15 per cent additional loading.

Tasmanian Logistics Committee chairman Steve Henty said the extension was fantastic news for exporters, as it provided them with the opportunity to compete with mainland markets.

‘‘Now that the extension consignment date has been announced, businesses need to start thinking about where their markets are and where their goods need to go, and who they need to talk to in the export industry,’ Mr Henty said.

‘‘Now is the time for businesses to be doing groundwork and working out how they are going to maximise their export opportunities.’’

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who announced the extension in Tasmania, said it represented more than 40 per cent of the Commonwealth’s annual investment in the TFES.

‘‘We are committed to retaining the TFES and to making it more effective and more targeted and to improve the efficiency of the scheme,’’ he said.

‘‘The time frame for making and processing claims will be reduced to six months.

‘‘The expanded scheme will boost the competitiveness of Tasmanian businesses and provide a substantial incentive for
local businesses to sell their products to broader markets.

‘‘The Tasmanian Liberal Senate team and local federal MPs Andrew Nikolic (Bass), Brett Whiteley (Braddon) and Eric Hutchinson (Lyons) have strongly advocated an expansion of the scheme.’’

The TFES helps Tasmanian businesses compete with businesses from other parts of Australia, with about 10,000 claims
from 1300 individual claimants made annually under the current scheme.

For more information visit: http://www.business.tas.gov.au/managingcustomers-andsuppliers/The-Tasmanian-Freight-Equalisation-Scheme-TFES.