A $40 MILLION joint Labor federal-state, short-term solution to Tasmania's shipping freight challenges has failed to address the problem, says Bell Bay industry group spokesman Bob Gozzi.
``This has been caught up in politics and is not in Tasmania's best interests,'' Mr Gozzi said.
He was commenting on Labor's plan to spend most of its $40 million freight support package, announced yesterday, on improving individual business infrastructure to make them more export ready.
Federal Infrastructure Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told an early morning political and business gathering in Launceston that $37.5 million would be available over two years, on application, from medium and small business.
The infrastructure grants were intended for capital upgrades to make businesses more freight efficient, Mr Albanese said.
Up to $25 million of the total amount would be made available before Christmas, he said.
Mr Gozzi said that any money that provided infrastructure for exporters was welcomed.
``But this does not do anything to address the actual cost of transport from here,'' he said.
``It would have been better to allocate this money to an operator to put an international ship or ships into Tasmania.''
When asked why money was not put into kick-starting a ship service, Mr Albanese said that the plan was not about spending a dollar, ``and then it's gone'', but about how to spend a dollar and make a real difference in the long-term.
Mr Gozzi said that it was ``totally inappropriate'' for Mr Albanese to imply that operators like Swire, who had been taking bulk cargo from Bell Bay, would put (government) money into its back pocket then cut and run.
``All my conversations with international shippers is that is just nonsense,'' he said.
Mr Gozzi said that Tasmanian exporters' major problem was still getting their product off the island.
Tasmanian Freight Logistics Co-ordination Team chairman Phil Clark said his team had asked for four years' worth of government funding to address the immediate shipping freight problems and received two years.
``Otherwise we haven't had to compromise and the thing I like about this [funding] is that it's front-loaded in the sense that we get to spend more early, when we really need it.''
Premier Lara Giddings said that freight was having an impact on exporters and the plan announced yesterday provided a strategic pathway for immediate assistance.