By Tom O’Meara
The TCCI is lobbying political parties to ensure major projects such as the second Bass Strait electricity link and freight equalisation scheme are locked in before the May 18 Federal election.
Tasmania is enjoying unprecedented growth in all economic areas and the TCCI board has agreed on six significant projects and policies to retain the confidence of the Tasmanian business sector.
TCCI Chairman Susan Parr said it was imperative for both Labor and the Liberal/National parties to show support for Tasmania and encourage future business and economic growth.
At a time when construction is receding across Australia, Tasmania has enjoyed the highest growth rate but policy ahead of polling day was needed to support future development, Ms Parr said.
The TCCI’s priority areas for political focus in the last weeks of campaigning revolve around retaining agreed assistance and infrastructure projects to continue job creation.
Project Marinus, a second Bass Strait electricity interconnector, would play a major role to meet the growing energy needs across the country, Ms Parr said.
“The second link will provide environmentally sustainable and economically viable Hydro electricity,” she said.
“It is critical that generation via Hydro electricity and pumped Hydro is maximised to support a stable and reliable system.”
While the Coalition has committed $56 million for feasibility assessments for Marinus Link and pumped Hydro cost modelling, the TCCI is pushing for support from all parties.
They must understand that the project is of national importance, connecting mainland Australia to low cost, secure, reliable and clean energy.
“During the past very hot summer more than 200,000 homes in Victoria were without power because the system failed and energy wasn’t available,” Ms Parr said.
The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme is also high on the list with aspects of the agreement due for review by the Productivity Commission.
“History shows the Commission is not a great at supporter of the TFES and recommended the closure of the scheme before the Coalition Government agreed to keep the scheme in perpetuity,” she said.
“The TFES has been a lifeline for Tasmanian businesses since 1975 rpoviding financial assistance for shipping costs from Tasmania to the mainland.”
Tasmania exported a record $3.8 billion in goods and produce in the year to February 2019 and any change in the program would negatively impact this stunning result, she said.
Ms Parr confirmed the TCCI was also prepared to take on a contentious decision to create a two wage agreement with higher payments to Sydney and Melbourne compared to Tasmania and regional businesses around the nation.
“The cost of living in Melbourne and Sydney is significantly more than most parts of Tasmania particularly when you consider wage increases for Scottsdale and Smithton equal to Melbourne and Sydney,” she said.
“Regional chambers around Australia are supporting the change.”