‘The recent fuss about ANL withdrawing from Bell Bay and placing its services in Burnie was described by local Mayor Burt as ‘like a bolt from the blue’. Going by the almost total lack of coherent response from the State government, they weren’t ready for it either.
The Mercury reported that ‘TasPorts was not in discussions leading up to the deal (to move from Bell Bay to Burnie)’.

They weren’t??! Why not?

Lloyds List, which publishes daily shipping movements and associated road/rail infrastucture capacities, states ‘The move (from Bell Bay to Burnie)… has been rumoured in industry circles for more than 12 months…’

Where do the TasPorts people spend their time if not listening to what’s happening in ‘industry circles’.

A move this big doesn’t just happen ‘like a bolt from the blue’. It takes months/years of careful planning and involvement of all parties, including no doubt the port of Burnie.

Was TasPorts talking to the ports people in Burnie? It seems not. Or perhaps the TasPort Burnie people couldn’t get through to Head Office?

Small wonder that we keep experiencing disaster after debacle if the government isn’t communicating with industry. The rail debacle is clearly related…suddenly the rail operator withdrew from Tasmania!

ABC reports ‘Tasports has criticised ANL after it cancelled its Melboure to Bell Bay container ship…Tasports believes the deal with threaten the long-term sustainability of the state’s port’.

The Examiner reported that ‘Tasports chief executive Robert Barnes said that while Toll may be able to service all of its container trade through Burnie in the short term; it did not address Tasmania’s long- term needs.’

Another serious problem as it is not, nor will it ever be, ANL and Toll’s role to try to address ‘Tasmania’s long term needs’. That is the job of the Tasmanian government and TasPorts. A job they appear to be doing their best to avoid.

In another story The Examiner reported ‘He (Minister Stuges) also said the Government would not be intervening to try and reverse the decision by the ANL-Toll joint venture’.

Surely the way to reverse the decision is for the government to do its job and create infrastructures that are sufficiently competitive to attract commercial operators, and to do that by having close relationships with those operators.

After the comments by the Minister and TasPorts it really looks as though the government simply isn’t interested in the clients, customers and communities that rely on public infrastructure to engage in economic activity. It’s also problematic that the Premier appears to support the disengagement of the government from commercial and community realities by congratulating his infrastructure Minister.

These are serious, basic and easy to fix problems – the notion that they are beyond the competence and interest of the state ALP government is deeply worrying and indicates a severe malaise that requires urgent correction.

It’s just as well that there’s a major opportunity for change coming up next March.

These events indicate that we’d be well advise to take that opportunity.