Lambie calls on Tasmanian Liberals to support her call for an immediate boost to Freight Equalization Scheme

julie Senator Jacqui Lambie with Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Norske Skog general manager Rod Bender.

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has written to the Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and has demanded that the $203M funding boost to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme begin 6 months earlier on the 1st of July 2015.

Senator Lambie’s call came after she received a letter from the DPM confirming that the first round of payments of $50M would only begin on the 1st of January 2016, rather than on the 1st of July 2015.

“Every Liberal politician in my state knows that by deliberately delaying access to our Freight Equalisation Scheme for 6 months, means that Tasmanian export businesses will be $25M to $50M worse off.

Mr Abetz, Colbeck, Whiteley, Nikolic and Hutchison  – all know that their political party is once again gambling with Tasmanian jobs and the survival of some of our biggest employers. I’m asking them, just this one time - to show some back bone and put Tasmania first, instead of grovelling to the mainland Liberals.

They have no reason not to support my call, except cowardice.

By making Tasmanian exporters wait an extra 6 months until Jan 2016, to be included in the Freight Equalization Scheme – they are taking a huge risk with the job security of hundreds of Tasmanian workers.

Given the great threat the Tasmanian economy is under, why take that risk?

Why can’t the government bring forward by only 6 months, the start of the initial round of the 1st year’s boost of $50m to the TFES? All it would mean is that instead of an extra $50M being injected for 12months – the $50M could be invested over 18 months.

Should they fail to agree to my reasonable request, it will be the Liberals’ fault should any jobs be lost to our exporters in the next 6 months. The Liberals must also shoulder the blame for lost sales, job creation opportunities and business confidence caused by their deliberate delay to boosting the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme.” said Senator Lambie.

“ I would prefer not to have to shame the Liberals publically into doing the right thing, but it took a meeting I organised with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Julie Bishop, the General Manager of Norske Skog Paper Manufacturer Rod Bender and myself - to force the Government to act to fix a broken scheme.(see attached 2&3)

And I will use the same tactics to fight to protect hundreds of Tasmanian jobs, which the Liberals have unnecessarily placed at risk now.

“It’s clear that by delaying the TFES funding boost the Abbott government are trying to manipulate the timing of the payments to politically favor them in the lead up to a federal election.” said Senator Lambie.

Whiteley MP caught out lying about TFES.

“Mr Whiteley’s disclosure that he was not “uncomfortable” with the Abbot Government delaying the funding of the TFES until January 2016 is proof he’s not fit to represent the people of Braddon. He’s happy to place an extra burden of $25M to $50M on Tasmania’s largest employers for the next 7 months – and hope that hundreds of Tasmanian manufacturing workers won’t lose their jobs.

Mr Whiteley has also been caught out misleading the media with his latest comments on the TFES. He tried to make out I was only asking for a boost of $25M per year to the scheme. The official Parliamentary record (see attached 3) shows that I have always called for a TFES with an annual budget boosted from $120M to $300M.

In claiming that I only asked for an extra $25M a year Mr Whiteley has tried to twist the words I used in a Question Without Notice I put to Senator Abetz on 2nd of December 2014.- where I quoted the words of a prominate captain of Tasmania industry.

Mr Whiteley’s lies also prompted me to do some research on his parliamentary record of advocating for a boost to the TFES. A search of official Hansard (see attached 4 ) indicates that he’s never asked for a boost to the TFSE.

The only time Mr Whiteley speaks about a boost for the TFES is when he’s claiming credit for the work I did after Abbott was shamed into allocating more money. Indeed the best that Mr Whiteley did in parliament was to offer support for the failed state government, international freight scheme, which would have wasted $33M of tax payers dollars.” said Senator Lambie.