Monday 19th Nov, 2018

TASMANIA SPECIAL REPORT: The role of the TFES

The Freight Scheme Experts owner and manager, Lee Panton
The Freight Scheme Experts owner and manager, Lee Panton

IN A former employment cycle, I managed the TFES for the Commonwealth government for seven years. It was a privilege and an honour to help deliver much-needed resources to Tasmanian businesses.

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It was not merely the ubiquitous government office situation nor omnipresent government workers who managed this scheme. Rather, a team of dedicated and resourceful individuals that bought their own values and life experiences that enabled the scheme to be delivered in a manner respected and upheld as the epitome of public service.

The TFES is a complex set of rules that have ambiguity purposely built into them due to one size not fitting all. It is run from a set of ministerial directions which are under the purview of the minister for Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. These are then administered by the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) from their Hobart office in Tasmania.

When I recall this journey, my thoughts sometimes go to the ever-changing landscape dependent on who said what to whom in Canberra and who made the most noise from representations both locally and federally – ahhhh the fondness of such Senate estimates.

But on the other hand, it makes me proud to think we changed the state of the economy every time we ran the requests to Treasury in Canberra and the next day a business received assistance under this scheme. Jobs, sheds, factories, plant and equipment were created at every push of the collective keyboard buttons.

Nowadays, being on the other side of the fence as a claims agent for Tasmanian businesses, I count on the TFES to grow this business. As agents, we want businesses to grow and prosper in an environment that has the disadvantage of being linked to the mainland by only Bass Strait, and via not road or rail.

So, what is the TFES? 
This scheme assists shippers reduce freight costs associated with sea transport of eligible goods between Tasmania and the Australian mainland in both directions, as well as intrastate between the main island of Tasmania and either King Island or any island in the Furneaux Group. With the extension of the TFES in January 2016, the scheme now includes northbound goods, which attract additional assistance when exported; this can and has opened up opportunities for Tasmanian businesses when exporting their goods.

Only the person who incurs the costs of shipping eligible, non-bulk goods is eligible to claim assistance under the scheme. However, to be eligible for assistance shipping southbound goods and some intrastate goods, the person or business also must be:

  • Engaged in the manufacturing, mining, agriculture, forestry or fishing industry;
  • A sportsperson competing in a sporting event where prize money is paid; or
  • A professional entertainer performing in a show or event for payment.

Eligible goods
Eligible equipment includes all things used directly in an entertainment or sporting event. For example, sideshow equipment, sound equipment, sports cars and horses used in entertainment and sporting events where prize money is paid. It does not include living accommodation, cars or other items for personal use.

All eligible goods must be transported by sea between Tasmania and the Australian mainland. Both legs of the round trip must be completed before a claim is lodged.

Assistance is available for accompanied passenger vehicles through the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme.

Assistance is limited to that applicable to the return leg of a round trip, where the round trip consists of the outward and return sea transport of the same cargo within a six-month period. So, what this means is that if you compete for prizemoney at an event – motocross, race-cars, monster truck, dressage and show-jumping to name but a few – then you are more than likely eligible to claim assistance under the TFES.

Additionally, if you’re a professional entertainer – a rock band, artist, sideshow, roadshow or exhibitionist to name a few – then you are also more than likely eligible to claim assistance under the TFES.

The TFES is fantastic driver for the economy here in Tasmania and a wonderful fillip for businesses that send goods to and from Tasmania for their basic business needs.

* Lee Panton is owner and manager of The Freight Scheme Experts

This article appeared in the August edition of DCN Magazine



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