New Tasmania shipping service good for exporters

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will commence a fortnightly service for Tasmanian exporters in late February.

The ABC reports that the service will stop at Bell Bay, east of Devonport in Northern Tasmania and then at Sydney and Brisbane, before heading to Noumea and New Zealand.

According to the company, depending on demand, it could increase service frequency to once a week.

Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding welcomed the news, but added that the government was committed to its election promise to reintroduce a direct freight service to Asia.

"We are working towards this aim with Swire Shipping under an MOU. It is for Swire to make their commercial decisions based on the level of market take-up they can achieve," he said.

As Fully Loaded reports, the government’s efforts to establish the freight link are being treated by scepticism by several stakeholders.

In November, five interested groups representing exporters said they wanted the Federal Government to extend the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) so that it includes exports from Tasmania to mainland Australia.

The call was also backed by Tasmanian Federal parliamentarians Senator Jacqui Lambie and MP Andrew Wilkie, as well as Tasmanian Logistics Committee chairman Steve Henty.

Henty said the proposal would only cost the Federal Government $25 million a year and would solve the problem quickly.

Lambie is a strong proponent of lower freight costs for Tasmanian exporters. In her maiden speech to parliament she called on the government to include Bass Strait as part of the National Highway in order to cut freight costs.