Answers wanted on Spirit fares

THE TT-LINE must compete with airlines on price, but without ``killing the golden goose''.

The state Opposition has put pressure on the government to explain how it will deliver cheaper Spirit of Tasmania fares.

Before the election, the Liberals promised to drive down fares by 20 per cent in a bid to turn around falling passenger numbers and attract up to 120,000 extra tourists. 

Opposition Leader Bryan Green yesterday called on the government to outline how it would deliver the policy.

``Like many of the Liberal Party's policies, cutting fares on the Spirit of Tasmania ferries sounds good but it is about time they provided the detail about how it will be delivered,'' Mr Green said.

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said the policy would be considered by cabinet ``soon''. 

``Labor had 16 years in government, and all they delivered was higher fares,'' Mr Hidding said.

The policy would see TT-Line forgo profit and set prices with the aim of increasing passenger numbers.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said it was a ``no-brainer'' that TT-Line needed the capacity to compete on price with airlines and be as affordable as possible. 

``But it has to [compete] in a way that doesn't kill the golden goose,'' Mr Martin said.

The two ferries are due for replacement or refurbishment in 2017.

``The reality is, the company has to be sustainable.''

 Mr Martin said.

He said the government needed to act carefully and in a ``considered way'' with TT-Line and address the issue of freight.

``It's unfortunate we've lost six to 12 months because the previous government wouldn't make a decision before the election,'' Mr Martin said.

He said TT-Line was ``having a really good period''.

``It's good news there's been growth, but there's a challenge to sustain that over winter,'' he said.

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