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THE federal government has announced changes to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme.

Under a proposed extension of the scheme, eligible businesses will receive new funding assistance for eligible goods imported to Tasmania via an Australian port where there is no direct Australian-made equivalent.

This extension is to follow a review process to ensure unforeseen consequences can be addressed in a way that does not adversely affect stakeholders.

The government is also reviewing help provided to Tasmanian businesses faced with the costs of transporting high-density goods to and from the mainland.

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These improvements are to be reviewed and the findings delivered to government by the end of year.

Assistant minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Andrew Gee said geography should not be a barrier to prosperity.

“The review will consider increasing the rates to ensure the level assistance we provide for freight and high-density goods reflects current freight costs to put Tasmania’s business owners and employers on a level playing field,” Mr Gee said.

“The government will also institute a transparent annual review process that will consider stakeholder submissions and publish the outcomes and underlying assumptions of reviews, with the first review to commence in January 2020. This will ensure the TFES is working as it is intended and no Tasmanian businesses are worse-off.”

Mr Gee said the government would also permanently integrate into the ongoing TFES the 2016 extension, which introduced assistance for Tasmanian goods transhipped at mainland ports.

“This will ensure that funding for eligible Tasmanian transhipped goods will be permanent, ongoing, uncapped and demand-driven, consistent with the overall funding approach for the TFES,” he said.

“Integrating the expansion into the ongoing TFES recognises that the expansion is achieving its goal of allowing Tasmanian manufacturers and primary producers to better compete with their mainland counterparts on equal terms in all markets.”

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