Move for Asian shipping deal

REGULAR direct international shipping services to Asia could resume in the second half of this year under a Labor government.

Premier Lara Giddings and Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne will today name Singapore-based company Swire Shipping as  the preferred carrier for an international container shipping service from Bell Bay.

Ms Giddings said the proposal was expected to cost less than a quarter of the Liberals' $33 million policy.

Details including frequency and the exact cost to taxpayers are yet to be finalised and will depend on demand from exporters.

``Through the work of the Freight Logistics Co-ordination Team, we can now tailor a solution to the needs of Tasmanian exporters which is sustainable in the long term,'' Ms Giddings said.

The Liberal Party has promised to spend $11 million a year for three years to attract an international shipper back to Tasmania if it wins government on March 15.

Pressure on the government to act to reduce the cost of shipping freight has been mounting since the AAA consortium ceased its weekly container service from Bell Bay to Singapore three years ago.

Last year  Bell Bay Aluminium negotiated for Swire Shipping to collect some freight from the port on a short-term contract.

Swire Shipping country manager Steve Clark said the company had been interested in the Tasmanian market for some time.

``Swire Shipping is committed to providing sustainable international shipping solutions for customers in Tasmania and international markets,'' Mr Clark said.

Mr O'Byrne said the detailed consultation with industry and work done by the FLCT would ensure the service was viable long-term without taxpayers' money to prop it up.

``The worst thing we could do is throw money into the pocket of an international shipper, only to have them pull up stumps and walk away when the subsidy dried up,'' he  said.


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