Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No Ocean Container Shipping Route, a RoRo Freight Ferry Row & an Expensive Intermodal Logistics Hub

Life it seems is Never Dull in Tasmania
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – Once again a RoRo freight and passenger ferry dispute makes the news as a row develops over services across the Bass Strait which links Tasmania with the mainland. TT Line, a wholly owned government enterprise company, has stated it will resume normal cargo services between Devonport and Melbourne despite an on-going argument with unions over the dismissal of two stevedores. Meanwhile no international container shipping facilities from the island continues to grate with exporters but work has started on a new multi-million dollar, intermodal logistics hub.

The Supreme Court has placed a temporary injunction to ensure services can continue after pickets prevented trucks being loaded aboard the Spirit of Tasmania ll at Port Melbourne’s Station Pier. TT Line are apparently caught up in a row between management and staff at the stevedoring company Qube which handles freight in Melbourne. The problems have already reportedly cost TT Line around half a million dollars and repercussions for the company, and for the farmers who rely on the service to export their goods, would be severe if the dispute continues after the injunction ends when the case is heard on Thursday.

In other Tasmanian news, the Government has geed up its task force which was appointed to study the need for improved international shipping facilities from the island. In April 2011, Tasmania lost its sole surviving scheduled international ocean freight route with the cessation of container shipping services between Bell Bay and Singapore, a situation blamed by many for job losses and cuts in profits and investment. This week, exporters complained to local press of delays, sometimes weeks, due to the necessity to tranship via the mainland, saying the problems and increased costs were making them uncompetitive.

More government action, of a more physical nature, with the news that a couple of weeks ago Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings was on hand to turn over the first sod which heralds the construction of Toll Tasmania’s new multimodal logistics hub in Brighton, around twenty miles North of Hobart. The much delayed plan to consolidate all the company’s Hobart handling operations into the new A$25 million, 16,000 square metre facility from its existing three sites is finally under way with completion expected by the middle of next year.

The company’s move from the rail terminal at Macquarie Point on Hobart’s waterfront will apparently clear the way for government plans to develop the old freight facilities as part of the ongoing ‘Hobart: a world-class, liveable waterfront city’ initiative, intended to transform the area into a cultural centre over the next decade.