King Island fodder shipment denied Apollo Bay port access

Sheep Central, May 1, 2024


The Apollo Bay harbour. Image – Colac Otway Shire.

LIONS charity Need for Feed has been denied access to Victoria’s Apollo Bay port for a shipment of fodder and cattle pellets destined for drought-stricken King Island farmers.

Colac Otway Shire Council this week said it is supporting a bid to find transport options to deliver much-needed shipment.

But council chief executive officer said the Port of Apollo Bay is a local port and not a commercial trading port.

“Council has received an independent engineering report that has assessed that freight movements of this scale present risks to the port’s infrastructure and operations,” she said.

“Colac Otway Shire Council, as the port manager, and the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning, as the port owner, have determined that until those risks are resolved it is not appropriate to approve the movement of this freight at this time, especially while viable options are available.”

The refusal to make the port available for the shipment is estimated to add about $70,000 to the cost of getting the fodder and pellets to King Island. The 500-plus tonnes of hay and 200 tonnes of pellets is intended for mainly beef and dairy producers, and some sheep operations.

Need for Feed chairman Graham Cockerell was disappointed by the Colac Otway Shire decision and said he would have to look at other departure ports for the shipment.

“It will probably be Port Welshpool, but it doubles our costs — 150 kms extra by land and 150kms extra by sea.”

Mr Cockerell said the ports of Portland and Geelong would not be suitable and involve longer voyages to King Island.

Ms Howard said council was originally contacted by Bass Strait Freight regarding a proposal for them to commence operations in January 2024 to operate from the Port of Apollo Bay.

“An assessment of that proposal is underway and has already identified a series of issues, and these have been communicated in writing to BSF before they then asked to transport urgent feed through the Port of Apollo Bay.

“The risks to port infrastructure arise from the size of the vessels, their manoeuvering, mooring and the loading and unloading of freight,” she said.

“Because of these issues, council has been trying to facilitate alternative arrangements through ports better equipped to assist the movement of hay to King Island.

“Other ports are equipped and ready to handle this freight quickly and safely,” Ms Howard said.

“Naturally we would provide access to the Port of Apollo Bay if it was a viable option.”

Ms Howard said it was wonderful that Need for Feed Australia had been able to source 500 tonnes or about 770 bales of current season oaten hay near Swan Hill.

“A range of parties are working to find the most suitable arrangement for the transport of this essential feed to King Island,” Ms Howard said.

The council said hay and feed can be readily shipped from commercial ports across Victoria including Portland, Geelong and Welshpool. There are a number of vessels currently operating from these ports to King Island that could accommodate this request.

“Council will continue to work collaboratively with the Department of State Growth in Tasmania and Victoria’s Department of Transport and Planning to support finding an urgent solution for the King Island community,” Ms Howard said.

“Providing aid to the farmers of King Island is something council wholeheartedly supports and we are keen to see the freight moving from northern Victoria as soon as possible.”

Tasfarmers president Ian Sauer has been critical of Apollo Bay’s failure to approve the use of the port and said the Tasmanian Government is now talking with a range of other stakeholders on the mainland about port options for the shipment.

“And I would imagine that would be with other ports and the Victorian Government.”



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