Fixing ‘water gap’ to unlock Kangaroo Island’s potential

03 Mar 2019

Unlocking more of the potential of Kangaroo Island’s tourism and agriculture industries may well require government subsidies to overcome barriers created by the high cost of passenger and freight transport.

Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer said a report commissioned by the Kangaroo Island Development Board (KIDB) showed the cost of ferry services was an impediment to economic development.

“There are strong grounds for subsidies of freight and transport costs across the so-called ‘water gap’ which separates the island from the mainland,” Ms Downer said.

“Tourism and primary industries comprise more than half of Kangaroo Island’s gross regional product. The high passenger and freight transport costs act as disincentives for tourists and attracting and expanding businesses, impede population growth, impact social equity and inclusion, and impact the cost of living, housing and doing business.

“There is precedent for a Federally-funded freight subsidy like that which was established for Tasmania. Together with a State-funded passenger subsidy this would result in significant increases in tourism and stimulate the local economy through attracting investment, creating jobs and increasing the population.

“This has been a critical issue for residents, businesses and industries on Kangaroo Island for many years. The island is a unique visitor destination and premier primary industries producer. If taxpayer subsidies on freight and passenger transport can deliver a return which benefits not only the island, but also the broader state and national economies, then these subsidies warrant serious consideration.

“It’s very important the island’s contribution to the state and national economies isn’t overlooked in this debate. I think there’s a serious business case for taxpayer-funded transport subsidies with respect to the island and I’ll work with the Morrison and Marshall governments to ensure this business case is given the serious consideration it merits.”