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Bass Strait Scheme Triples Ferry Traffic

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Leader of the National Party

13th May 2003

The 2003-04 Budget reaffirms the Government's commitment to the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme (BSPVES), which has more than tripled the number of passenger vehicles shipped across Bass Strait, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said today.

"The Government expects to spend $30.8 million on the scheme in 2003-04, compared to an estimated $26.6 million in 2002-03. The 15.8 percent increase reflects the continued success of the scheme since we introduced it in 1996. The number of vehicles shipped across Bass Strait has increased from 63,000 a year before it was introduced to an estimated 200,000 in 2002-03," Mr Anderson said.

The Government expanded the scheme last year to replace the seasonal rebate with a rebate of up to $150 each way. The Government also increased the rebate for motorhomes and vehicles towing a caravan to up to $300 each way. The initiative doubled the rebate for these vehicles during the high season and tripled it during the low season. The rebate is paid directly to the ferry operator and deducted automatically from the total fare paid by passengers.

"The increased rebate for motorhomes and caravans has been incredibly popular and has helped Tasmania benefit from the growing popularity of extending motoring holidays. The number of motorhomes and caravans shipped across Bass Strait is expected to increase by more than 185 percent between 2001-02 and 2002-03," Mr Anderson said.

"The cost of the scheme will remain uncapped. It will continue to be driven by demand, because we recognise the vital importance of tourism and cross-strait travel to the Tasmanian economy.

"In 2003-04, the Federal Government is budgeted to spend $80.1 million to help Tasmanian industries ship products across Bass Strait under the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES), compared to an estimated $77.1 million in 2002-03.

"The scheme assists Tasmanian firms to compete in mainland markets by reducing the freight cost disadvantage associated with the Bass Strait. The Government's subsidies under the TFES are uncapped.

"The scheme assists about 1,350 shippers a year to obtain assistance for the movement of products such as frozen vegetables, newsprint and confectionery. In 2002-03, we expect to pay about 5,400 claims under the scheme," Mr Anderson said.

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680 / 0419 233989