Calls to even up aviation and shipping routes

There are calls to expand the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme to create a “level playing field” across aviation and shipping routes. 

The scheme provides financial assistance for cost incurred by shippers of non-bulk goods moved by sea.

According to the federal government, the scheme aim is to give Tasmanian industries equal opportunities to compete in other markets, recognising that Tasmanian shippers cannot transport goods interstate by road or rail.

Launceston Airport general manager Paul Hodgen said the aviation industry had consistently been dismissed when calling for an expansion to the scheme. 

He said extending the scheme would create a “level playing field in terms of freight moving between the island and mainland”.

“To us, the air-freight industry is somewhat disadvantaged,” he said. 

Mr Hodgen said extending the scheme to aviation would also have benefits for the state’s businesses.

“It would have a positive impact on the pricing and competitiveness of air freight,” he said. 

“Air freight has a niche market – premium seafood, abalone, lobsters and so on.

“We're not going to be carrying rocks on the aircraft.”

But Tasmania’s Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said the scheme was designed to offset the lack of cheaper transport options to the state.

“The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme is specifically designed to remove the natural land and freight disadvantages that Tasmania faces as an island, where we don’t have access to the cheaper road and rail freight options enjoyed by other states,” he said.

“Extending the coverage to air freight would require Tasmania’s air freight to face the same natural disadvantages, which it currently doesn’t.”

Mr Hodgen said the airport had an interest in its aviation businesses succeeding. 

“We're standing on the periphery of this - we provide infrastructure and invest in infrastructure for air-freight operations,” he said.