Hidding signals end to planned Swire Shipping service

Push for company’s direct international containership calls to Tasmania’s Bell Bay runs aground

Hidding signals end to planned Swire Shipping service
Rene Hidding says federal freight scheme boost changed the situation.


Tasmanian infrastructure minister Rene Hidding’s push to have a direct international container shipping link to Bell Bay has foundered exactly a year after it began.

The Tasmanian Government has been in negotiations with Swire since last year’s state election using a controversial subsidy lure of $33 million over three years.

But it says changes in the Bass Strait transport support have led to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) as "preferred operator" expiring.

"As was agreed with Swire as part of the MoU, the Government and Swire both reserved the right to take into account any changes implemented by the Federal Government regarding the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES)," Hidding says in a statement.

"Obviously, the recent decision by the Federal Government to inject an additional $203 million into the TFES will have a substantial impact on freight equalisation and the cost of exporting freight from Tasmania.

"As such, given this materially different strategic context, it was not possible to reach an agreement with Swire under the terms of the MoU and given the MoU has now expired, these negotiations with Swire have concluded."

He raises the possibility of "future opportunities" for Swire as the changes to the TFES are implemented and further changes to the Federal Coastal Trading Act are considered by Federal Parliament.

Another big change not mentioned was Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC’s) introduction of a service that calls at New Zealand and other Australian ports and links with international routes.

The $33 million subsidy cash will be spent on one-off funding for "job-creating infrastructure".


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