Northern Tasmania Development (NTD) today released a report calling for action on the proposed upgrades at the Port of Bell Bay in order to provide long-term capacity for Tasmania’s economic development.
The withdrawal of container services from the Port of Bell Bay has increased community and industry concerns about the future role of the Port of Bell Bay. NTD commissioned the independent report to examine the future role of the Port of Bell Bay in Tasmania’s port system.
Hobart-based consultancy business MMC Link was selected following their work with the Bell Bay Industry Group in 2011 which highlights the substantial economic contribution the Bell Bay industries make to the Tasmanian economy.
The NTD report, titled Containerised Freight Specialisation at the Port of Bell Bay: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, examines publicly available data about Tasmania’s current and projected port capacity. Information was also collected through interviews with industry representatives.
Amongst the key issues the report contains is the absolute necessity for Tasmanian industries to have confidence and clarity about the long-term future of the state’s ports. In 2008, the Tasmanian Government outlined a plan for port specialisation that included Bell Bay as the state’s major international container port and Burnie to become the major bulk port. This plan has obviously not been realised with Bell Bay no longer having regular container services and public funds continuing to be diverted to Burnie to crisis-manage container throughput constraints.
Northern Tasmania Development Chairman Barry Easther said, “Even with moderate growth forecasts, our current Ports will reach capacity within the next decade. Given the long timeframes needed to progress port infrastructure upgrades, the time for investments at the Port of Bell Bay is now – or Tasmania will lose trade opportunities.”
Bell Bay Industry Group Chairman, Bob Gozzi, also reinforced the findings of the independent report. “The current transport and shipping arrangements for international freight from Tasmania are hurting the exporting businesses located in Bell Bay precinct as well as across the state. The Government needs to clarify the future Port of Bell Bay arrangements to enable Tasmanian businesses to invest with confidence.”
For a copy of the report, please go to http://www.northerntasmania.org.au/