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Shipping service delay blasted

LABOR has lambasted the Liberal government for failing to reinstate an international shipping service, more than eight months after claiming office.
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The government was expected to select a shipper offering a direct freight route to Asian ports by July.

It promised $33 million over three years to an operator who could made the link viable, but securing a deal has been plagued by delays.

Exporters have accused the government of wasting time making its decision, arguing that delays are hurting business confidence.

Yesterday Labor finance spokesman Scott Bacon went further.

Scott Bacon

‘‘The Liberals are still posturing despite all their political bravado over freight services in the lead-up to the election,’’ he said.

‘‘The Liberals gave exporters the impression they would establish international shipping links with the click of the fingers, and there’s no excuse for their failure.’’

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said the government was working to deliver the shipping service, and hoped to make a progress announcement soon.

Mr Hidding confirmed that he would be discussing the issue with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss in Launceston today.

‘‘We have been taking into account the consideration that the Australian government is giving to changes to coastal shipping,’’ he said.

‘‘I do look forward to taking that issue up with the Deputy Prime Minister.’’

Hefty costs incurred by ships sitting idle at Tasmanian ports and restrictions on foreign ships operating in Australian waters are expected to dominate discussions.

Longstanding Bass Strait campaigner Peter Brohier said Mr Hidding must also push his federal colleague on freight and passenger costs between Tasmania and the mainland.

Mr Brohier insisted that a vehicle full of passengers crossing the strait should not pay more than $300 one-way, and argued that the price of transporting goods must be dramatically reduced.

‘‘Mr Truss and all state and territory infrastructure ministers must always remember the route between Victoria and Tasmania is the only one disconnected from the national highway grid,’’ he said.

‘‘They should ensure the island state of Tasmania receives equal treatment in terms of access to the national highway.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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