Published: 06 June 2017

The Examiner, June 3, 2017 - By Hayden Johnson

A Legislative Council inquiry has been established to canvass options and analyse King Island’s ongoing shipping issues and freight costs.

Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest will chair the inquiry and call for submissions from the community in an effort to understand and look and options to fix the island’s transport problems.

The committee will look at; the current shipping and freight requirements of King Island, including freight costs; the impact of high freight charges on the cost of doing business and living on the island; and the requirements to provide a sustainable service to meet current and future freight needs. 

Since the Searoad Mersey ceased servicing the island, its residents and businesses have relied on the trouble-prone Investigator II.

The government has asked TasPorts to investigate the feasibility of a new purpose-built ship for the King Island community.

Mrs Forrest said the inquiry wanted to hear from stakeholders and the community affected by the shipping issues. 

“They're most aware of the challenges facing the island in terms of freight charges and the inequities around that,” she said. 

Mrs Forrest said the island deserved a “reliable and suitable shipping service”.

“I believe there could be more than once solution to this challenge,” she said. 

In its alternative budget, Labor pledged $8 million for a new King Island ferry. 

Mrs Forrest said solutions could involve a purpose-built vessel or an upgrade to the Grassy port.

The shallow depth of the port has been an issue for several years and is the main roadblock for many potential ships to service the island.

Mrs Forrest said deepening the port could be an option.

“If that was the best solution and it opened up the market - I think you'd find ships would be more available,” she said. 

“All things need to be put on the table and we'll have look at them.”

Mrs Forrest said the inquiry was “not intended to delay” the government’s much-needed solution to the problem.

“The government have really dropped the ball on this,” she said.

"The desire is to find out what all the best possible options are and the cost-effectiveness of the service.”

Submissions to the inquiry should be lodged before July 21.

Members will then travel to King Island and hold hearings on the matter.

Go Back