Wheat growers say it is cheaper to import wheat to the North Island from Australia than to ship it from the main growing area in the South Island. Wheat grower Brian Leadley says the price of trucking milling wheat, used for baking, is governed by the cost of getting it across Cook Strait. At the moment only smaller cargo loads of 500 to 1000 tonnes could easily be shipped, compared to international shipping loads of up to 30,000 tonnes.
Chief executive of Eat New Zealand Angela Clifford says the Cook Strait transport system is a commercial enterprise and this pushes up food prices. In contrast, Australia treated freight between the mainland and Tasmania as part of its highway system and this pushed the price of transporting food down. A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport says the Australian Government assists non-bulk freight movements across the Bass Strait via an equalisation scheme which aims to give Tasmanian industries equal opportunities to compete because they do not have the option of transporting goods by road or rail.