Exporters in favour of plan

Exporters have welcomed an election promise from the state opposition to use $33 million to lure international shipping back to Bell Bay.

However, the state and federal governments say the Liberal Party's three-year plan won't fix rising transport costs over the long term.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said after talking with those in the shipping industry he believed $11 million a year for three years was enough to attract a shipping company back to Tasmania.

He won't reveal where the money will be found, when Tasmania is strapped for cash, until he releases his party's alternative budget.

Veolia Environmental Services was one of the businesses to welcome the news.

General manager David Beard said the company's freight costs had risen from $26 a tonne to $67 since the international shipping line ceased.

``Tasmanian exporters and the broader state economy cannot sustain the exorbitant freight costs across Bass Strait,'' he said.

Cuthbertson Brothers managing director Doug Dickenson said rising freight costs meant Victorian businesses were $850 a container better off than their Tasmanian rivals.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Jan Davis said it was ridiculous that exporters were paying as much to ship goods between Tasmania and Melbourne as they did between Melbourne and Asia.

Ms Davis wants bipartisan support for the plan.

Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne said the government was working on a long-term plan in a systematic way through the inquiry led by a Freight Logistics Co-ordination Team.

He said the proposal Mr Hodgman had promised to pay for was received only last week from the Tasmanian Exporters Group.

``Calculations show that what Mr Hodgman is proposing would only cater for around 30 per cent of international export freight . . . and is doing nothing for businesses looking to send their goods across the Bass Strait,'' Mr O'Byrne said.

Bass Labor MHR Geoff Lyons, who is lobbying his government for a $38.8 million trade-training ship, described the latest plan as ``a thrown together piece of stupidity''.

He said the Liberals must explain how often the service would run and between which ports.

TEG chairman Bob Gozzi said it was pleasing to see the issue was high on the political agenda.

``Since losing the international shipping line it's meant an additional cost to Tasmanian businesses in the order of $30-$40 million a year,'' he said.

Mr Gozzi's group is also lobbying for a review of the Bass Strait Freight Equalisation Scheme.

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