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Passengers using the Spirit of Tasmania ferry service may be forced to go to Geelong at the Victorian end of the voyage because of a dispute between the operators of Station Pier in Port Melbourne and the Tasmanian Government.
The State Government revealed last year it was looking at alternatives to Station Pier for the state-owned service after an attempted price hike from the Victorian Ports Corporation.
Labor MP David O'Byrne asked Premier Peter Gutwein in Parliament today whether Geelong's port was on the table.
Mr Gutwein did not deny Geelong — about 70 kilometres south-west of Port Melbourne — was being examined as an alternative to Station Pier, due to what he described as "price gouging" by the operators.
"It is very, very important we have a cost-effective dock," Mr Gutwein said.
"[The operators of Station Pier] want to price gouge. They are looking to take every last cent they possibly can from Tasmanian businesses and customers."
Labor's Shane Broad said the extra travel time to Geelong would have serious implications for Tasmanian exporters.
Opinions from Tasmanians on social media were mixed.
"Great idea, should be quicker and easier," Tim Willis said.
"Why doesn't one of the boats go to Geelong, and the other to Melbourne? Problem solved," according to Meg Hall.
"Might as well make it totally inconvenient, Burnie-Geelong," from Cade Butler.
A spokesperson from ferry operator TT-Line said the company had a lease at Station Pier in Melbourne until 2022.
"There are ongoing, standard commercial conversations between TT-Line and VicPorts regarding that lease," the spokesperson said.
"Until those negotiations are concluded, there is nothing to report."
Victorian Ports has been contacted for comment.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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