I recently attended a private dinner where the shipping priorities for Tasmania were questioned.

The table was occupied by senior representatives of the mining, forestry, and renewable energy sectors and I guess, by proxy through me, the general cargo sector (think containers).

It was a tough question really as there were many competing interests at the table (as I am sure there are everywhere).

It all comes down to the available space and infrastructure that is required for current operations and perceived growth and how this competes with other industries and trends.

The increasing size of vessels against the static footprint of the current berthing facilities, the loading equipment and efficiencies cargo receivals on the wharf, the rail infrastructure and the interface with the port operation, the discharge and loading capability of non crane operated vessels – throw in some cruise ships and congestion and you could be forgiven for thinking that the best option to consider what is most important is to use the “rock, paper, scissors” method – winner gets first dibs.

A very tough gig and one the TasPorts, the State Government and industry are watching closely.

In a world where costs are only going up, the Tasmanian Logistics Committee (TLC) is forever looking at mechanisms to reduce the cost burden on traders by any other means that we may discover.

Recently the TLC was instrumental in a review of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) –  imported goods that cannot be sourced from Mainland Australia, fall within the TFES current parameters and transship a Mainland port of Australia.

Tasmania does not have any international calling container ships (even MSC is basically feeder service via Sydney).

The addition to the TFES scheme will be a welcome relief for importers that meet the criteria as for years they have been left off the radar completely.

The ability to have some cost relief from the expensive feeder rates over Bass Strait will allow for Tasmanian based businesses to invest more into their businesses by way of capital equipment, research or market expansion for finished goods – we have already seen how this has benefitted the exporters with the TFES scheme extended to this trade in 2016.

Other projects underway by the TLC are a deep dive into infrastructure surcharges and port and terminal charges passed on to Tasmanian exporters and importers along with ensuring that there is a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities for Tasmanian shippers.