Shipping operators are lining up

Tasmanian Exporters Group chairman Bob Gozzi

Tasmanian Exporters Group chairman Bob Gozzi

THE government remains tight- lipped about expressions of interest from operators keen to offer a direct international shipping service between Northern Tasmania and Asia.

Interested shipping companies have until the close of business today to submit their proposals.

The Liberals have promised $33 million over three years for a shipping company that could make the service viable in the long run.

Following this afternoon's deadline, the government will look to select a preferred bidder next month.

The government refused to comment on which, if any, companies had expressed interest.

However, Tasmanian Exporters Group chairman Bob Gozzi said he had direct information that several submissions would come forward.

"Last time around six companies expressed an interest in offering the service," Mr Gozzi said.

"I would think by closing time there would be several expressions of interest, and I would hope at least one of those would be considered a favourable provider for Tasmania."

The deadline comes just six days after the Productivity Commission handed down a damning report into Tasmanian shipping and freight.

Mr Gozzi said the report drove home the importance of securing a direct international shipping service for Tasmania.

"The report made it pretty clear we can either head down the path of continuing to support and expand the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme for international exports or support a direct international service," he said.

"While backing the TFES for international freight might sound appealing, administering the scheme can be cumbersome, inefficient and non-transparent.

"There is a substantial economic benefit for Tasmania to pursue a direct service, leaving behind some of the recurrent costs of the TFES to taxpayers."

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