Tasmanian Times

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Long-term planning for the next generation of Bass Strait ferries

The Hodgman Liberal Government’s Plan for the Spirits of Tasmania is delivering more passengers, lower average fares and record forward bookings.

Today, I was pleased to advise a Parliamentary Committee scrutinising TT-Line that we are planning for the longer-term, as well as the short and medium term.

Our recent refurbishments have – as TT-Line has advised – given us what are likely the best RO-PAX (roll on, roll off, passenger) ferries in service in the world today, and we are justly proud of these ships and what has been achieved, and that they will continue to serve Tasmania well through to 2023.

Today I have announced that we have established a Sub-Committee of Cabinet to plan for the replacement of the Spirits, which has long been scheduled for 2022-2023.

The Cabinet Sub-Committee comprises the Premier, as Minister for Tourism, the Treasurer, and myself as Infrastructure Minister.

Establishing a Cabinet Sub-Committee shows how seriously we take this issue and allows for the most strategic, evidence-based process and final decision.

We will not be taking any lectures from Labor on this; they promised new ships in the 2010 election campaign and broke their promise in 2011.
Labor also wanted to turn TT-Line into a freight business, competing directly with the private sector and robbing Tasmania of increased tourism visitation and cheaper fares for Tasmanians.

In our first year of Government, TT-Line’s passenger numbers grew by eight per cent and average fares fell by eight per cent in real terms.
Since then, the refurbished ships have entered service, and forward bookings have gone through the roof, with extra day sailings added on top of additional day sailings.

This has brought the total number of scheduled day sailings to 121 for the current financial year – a 50 per cent increase on 2013-14, just two years ago.

Clearly, the Liberal Government’s Plan for the Spirits to refocus on passengers and play a leading role in achieving our vision of attracting 1.5 million visitors a year to the State by 2020 is delivering.

The refurbishments, which have dramatically improved the day sailing experience for passengers, have captured the imagination of travellers from home and interstate.

It is time for Labor to get on board.
Rene Hidding, Minister for Infrastructure

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