*Pic: Spirit of Tasmania 2 berthed in Melbourne. Flickr, Bernard Spragg NZ
Senators ... this is your chance to respond ...
A PETITION SEEKING TO RESTORE THE MARINE HIGHWAY LINKING OUR NATION AND ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE TASMANIAN PEOPLE
I was the Chairman of the former National Sea Highway Committee, the catalyst behind the introduction of an ongoing, well funded, federal equalization scheme.
The scheme was introduced in 1996 to equalize the cost of the movement of people and passenger vehicles crossing Bass Strait.
Tasmania, one of the most remote islands in the world, was settled as a penal colony.
Today Tasmanians continue to be unjustly separated from family and friends. Their major commercial activities also lack the necessary access to people.
A move to integrate Bass Strait into the national highway system has failed leaving a massive interstate infrastructure gap on the highway between Melbourne and Hobart.
At the same time, the rest of the nation enjoys equitable access to and from their state of origin crossing deserts, rivers and mountain ranges using a surface transport network costing taxpayers billions.
The purpose of federation was to link all the colonies into an integrated economy though the movement of both people and freight.
The transport barrier of the Strait was described by the Coalition in 1996 as, “the single most serious impediment to the growth of jobs, investment and population for Tasmania”. Regrettably this impediment largely remains today.
For twenty years, mainly as a result of my committee’s efforts, a federal marine highway policy, substantial federal funding and large shipping capacity have been available to reduce Tasmania’s isolation.
But despite this, the Australian Government still has not properly linked Tasmania. The impediment, and its adverse social and economic consequences, needlessly continues. Without intervention the prognosis is bleak.
The case for restoring transport equity that existed at the time of federation is watertight. The existing Melbourne - Hobart highway can be linked without one km of bitumen and virtually overnight, for a fraction of existing funding levels. There is no reasonable argument against it.
My petition seeks the most cost effective way of delivering basic travel equality for the Tasmanian people. This method will also deliver, for all Australians, fair ferry-based ‘highway integrated’ access to their island state. It will also benefit Victoria.
It is in the national social and economic interest that full transport equity for the movement of people be restored across the Victorian - Tasmanian border.
In this instance, the Senate, its petition’s process and now regrettably the engagement of the Monarch, all have a vital role in achieving an effective ongoing link.
Given the unfortunate failure of the democratic process in fairly linking our two transport grids for nearly two decades, I call on just one of you to put the attached petition before the Senate in conformity with Standing Orders.
As a national Issue, impacting directly on people and businesses in all states and territories, the approach taken by some of hand passing their involvement to other senators cannot be justified.
I await your response as a Senator of the Parliament of Australia recognizing that Tasmanians, wherever they live across Australia, are being discriminated against by lack of a highway integrated connection to Tasmania.
Nth. Caulfield VIC 3161
This letter was sent to all Australian Senators on Sunday. The question is ... will any of them move this petition into the Senate? The petition will be made available if published in Hansard
*Peter Brohier, Winner of the AHA Tasmania award for outstanding services to tourism, and for achieving a national sea highway. Peter and his team were described as the lobbyists that had beaten the nation’s best in 1996 (Sydney Morning Herald). Acknowledged as the person most responsible for the introduction of the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalization Scheme by Tasmania’s Premier Lennon ( Hansard, House of Assembly, Tasmania). Peter is a Tasmanian by birth and is now based in Melbourne.
• Gordon Bradbury in Comments: Great work Peter. The thought occurred to me the other day that Tasmania has neither a rail connection nor a National Highway connection to the rest of Australia, but the ATO does not consider Tasmania a remote area for taxation purposes! Talk about hypocrisy. We get taxed as though we are part of the Nation when in fact we are treated as second class Australians.
• Mick Kenny in Comments: Victorians are paying $18 billion over 27 years to the operators of a desalination plant, simply to remain on standby. Without dwelling upon the controversial issues surrounding construction of the plant itself, that alone is a lot of money. Reasonably priced vehicle access between Tasmania and the rest of the country and massive road network isn’t that big an ask. The big challenge seems to be overcoming the ideological mindset dominating major public infrastructure, fixated as it is on private corporate models.
• Steve C in Comments: So if Jackie Lambie is Federal, then she can use Section 52 of the Constitution which includes …
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