KING Islanders are fuming that they will have no choice but to accept potential price hikes of fertiliser and shipping cattle to Victoria has become a step harder because of the end of the triangular shipping service.
Tasmanian Country sister newspaper King Island Courier broke the news that Tasports’ wholly owned subsidiary, Bass Island Line (BIL) shipping, is scrapping its triangular service through Grassy, Bell Bay and Melbourne.
A new service is being introduced between Grassy and Devonport in the wake of falling demand and financial pressures.
King Island Mayor Julie Arnold this week a lot of the island’s fertiliser came from Victoria.
“So does that mean now there will be no price check on fertiliser coming out of Tasmania,” she said.
“So whatever the price increase is going to be on fertiliser, King Island is just going to have to bear it because we have no competitive market on fertiliser,” Ms Arnold said.
“Our ability to send cattle north meant that it kept an eye on cattle prices in Tasmania.
“That is no longer, because we will presumably have to carry the cost of trans shipping.
The new Tasports’ plan for Bass Island Line has no services between King Island and the Australian mainland.
“We just didn’t need that at this time,” Cr Arnold said.
Following a successful transition to Devonport, BIL will then look to cease its regular Victorian port call, which has continued to see a decline in demand and is no longer operationally viable.
“Now that has raised so many questions and it hasn’t been consulted with King Island,” Ms Arnold said.
“We were told after Christmas they were doing this.
“Nobody on the shipping group or the shipping executive was told, nobody on council was told.
“But Tasports say they consulted heavily with King Island.
“Now I’ve asked who they consulted with and I have not been told.”
Last week, representatives from TasPorts and BIL held discussions with customers, key stakeholders including its shipping agents and freight forwarders, the King Island Advisory Board and the King Island Shipping Group.
The King Island Shipping Group is a committee of the King Island Council involving elected members and is the formally designated mechanism that TasPorts and BIL engages with the council through.
TasPorts is investing more than $2.4 million in the construction of a new multi-user roll-on-roll-off ramp at the Port of Devonport.
King Island Ports Advisory Board chairman Alan Carey said: “This is a great outcome and Devonport is the ideal port and RORO ramp essential for the transfer of goods for trans-shipment.”
The new RORO ramp is expected to be operational in early March when BIL will transition its service from Bell Bay to Devonport.