Hidding rules out asset sell-off

THE government has ruled out privatising any state-owned assets after an inquiry recommended the sale of Tasmanian ports, rail and TT-Line.

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding welcomed a Productivity Commission report into the state's freight and shipping industries  but dismissed recommendations linked with selling public assets.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Commission pushed the state government to articulate its reasons for retaining ownership of TT-Line, questioning whether government control of the two Bass Strait ferries served to block competition in the state's freight industry.

The report's authors also highlighted that the state's rail sector had consistently operated at a loss and encouraged the government to assess the commercial viability of TasPorts.

But Mr Hidding said the government's position against selling state-owned infrastructure remained clear.

``We can drive change, we can drive a much better performance from all of Tasmania's assets, without considering the ownership of them,'' Mr Hidding said.

``The fact is there is no privatisation agenda of the state's assets . . . it's not necessary to do that.''

The report also recommended a shake-up of Bass Strait freight and vehicle subsidies after the federal government signalled its commitment to retaining the schemes.

Stakeholders have given the report a lukewarm reception, with Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Jan Davis  saying it contained nothing that she had not heard before.

``It certainly didn't say anything that made my hair stand on end,'' Ms Davis said.

``At the moment all we're doing is commenting on another report, when what we really need is costed, detailed propositions from the federal government about how we're going to address long-standing issues around freight.''

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said the report included far more criticism than possible solutions.

``They've slammed both Bass Strait subsidy schemes without properly explaining why they don't work or proposing any viable alternatives,'' Mr Martin said.

``It's time to draw a line in the sand and develop a clear, long-term plan rather than a constant cycle of reviews, reports and commissions.''


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