TT-LINE has refused to confirm rumours it is considering purchasing freight-only ships to join its passenger fleet.
The government-owned business is due to report on plans to replace or refurbish the Spirit of Tasmania I and II in December.
But shipping industry insiders say they have heard the company was also looking at the purchase of two freight-only ships, which they say would exceed the Tasmania to Bass Strait shipping requirements.
Lyons Liberal MHA Rene Hiding raised the matter in parliament yesterday, asking the government to confirm TT-Line was moving in direct competition with private shipping lines.
A spokesman for TT-Line would not confirm the suggestion.
``A vessel replacement and procurement committee was charged with reporting back to the government with a resolution before the end of the year, and that's what it's going to do,'' he said.
Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne said government had been informed of some of the options being considered, but did not provide details.
``The government has received advice regarding some of the options, as is normally the case with these activities,'' Mr O'Byrne said.
``I make the point that the overall assessment of this advice from TT-Line is not yet complete and no decisions have been made.
``And I also reiterate that the chairman of TT-Line is on the record as saying no stone will be left unturned with regard to considering options for vessel replacement or refurbishment.''
SeaRoad Shipping chairman Chas Kelly said there was no need for more domestic freight ships on the Bass Strait freight run.
Mr Kelly said the Devonport-based company was about to purchase three new ships to replace its own freight vessels, which will further increase capacity.
Toll Tasmania general manager Tony Stewart said he doubted whether another freight service would be financially viable.