TT-Line has defended a non-acceptance of liability clause for the carriage of animals on the Spirit of Tasmania vessels.
The deaths of 16 polo ponies which had visited the state in summer for an event occupied much of Friday’s government business scrutiny hearing on the state-owned company.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor questioned whether it was acceptable for the company to accept no responsibility should it be found to be negligent in transportation of livestock.
“I think some people would be surprised to see that TT-Line, as a Tasmanian business entity, is not prepared to be held liable for loss, death or personal injury incurred as a result of the company's own negligence,” she said.
Infrastructure Minister Jeremy Rockliff said TT-Line transported animals regularly without incident.
He said court proceedings on the pony deaths would determine exactly what happened and who should be held accountable.
TT-Line chairman Michael Grainger said evidence was yet to be provided to the company that the animals died on the ship.
“We know there has been damage to our brand and we're not too happy about that,” he said.
“We are confident that the company is not at fault because of the testing we have done internally.
“Nothing has indicated that there is a problem but it's such a delicate matter that is before the court we'd be mad to make a comment on it.”
Mr Grainger said the company was confident the conditions in the holding area had not contributed to the pony deaths.
He said regular air testing had determined the air quality was "very, very good".
"It is well below the acceptable standard of particulate," he said.
The Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment Department's animal welfare inspectorate has done several inspections of the vessel since the incident but has not yet provided advice to the company.
Advice has, however, been provided to the state’s Director of Public Prosecutions.
TT-Line paid out a severance package of $761,000 in 2017 to a senior staff member.
The package was made up of money for 12 months accrued annual leave, a redundancy of $348,000, notice period of $44,000, a vehicle worth $38,000 and $20,000 in superannuation.
Mr Grainger said a majority of the payment was annual leave and long-service leave and the company had since changed its policy on annual leave so it could not be accrued.
“(He) was paid what he was entitled to, not a penny more, not a penny less,” he said. GBE hearings finished on Friday.