Libs vow $33m for Bell Bay

A STATE Liberal government would put up $33 million to attract international shipping back to Tasmania's key freight port at Bell Bay. 

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman yesterday announced $33 million over three years to tackle the port's shipping crisis, if elected next year. 

Bell Bay lost Tasmania's sole international shipping container operator and its containerised service  to Melbourne in 2011.

It is meant to be the state's major international container terminal. 

The loss had been a crippling blow to exporters forced to have goods ``double handled'' as they are first shipped to Melbourne before being unloaded and then put back on a ship heading overseas.  

Exporters, including those located at Bell Bay, have also been hit with extra freight costs as goods must now be trucked to Burnie or Devonport for export.

Mr Hodgman said the loss of shipping was costing exporters up to $40 million a year and having ``a much greater cost to the broader Tasmanian economy''.

``In many cases, it's now more expensive to ship from Tasmania to Melbourne than it is to ship from Melbourne to key Asian ports,'' he said. 

A Liberal government would spend  $11 million a year over three years  to partner with industry to ensure the reintroduction of an international shipping service from Tasmania to key Asian ports, he said.

Last year Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne flagged an almost identical idea but did not match it with any funding.

 At the time Mr O'Byrne said he wanted the newly established Freight Logistics Co-ordination Team to look at a possible three-year public, private partnership to attract international shipping to Bell Bay. 

The team has been established to examine options for  Bell Bay and will make recommendations independent of the government. 

Last month Mr O'Byrne said ``any taxpayer contribution towards a freight carrier could only be short-term''. 

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