THE IMBROGLIO over the shipment of drought-relief stockfeed from mainland Australia to Bass Strait’s King Island has been resolved.

Colac Otway Shire Council had forbidden the use of the port of Apollo Bay on Victoria’s south-west coast by Bass Strait Freight’s vessel Matthew Flinders IV to load 500 tonnes of fodder and 200 tonnes of pellets donated by the Lions Club charity Need for Feed.

COSC cited inadequate facilities in the port, which it insists is a local port not a commercial port, even though the wharf in question was designed and built for BSF vessels.

However, Tasmanian premier Jeremy Rockliff yesterday [5 May] announced that Gippsland Ports had stepped in and the freight will now be shipped from Port Welshpool, with the first shipment to Grassy expected this Thursday.

 “This is an extremely pleasing result for our farmers, and I extend my sincere thanks to the Port Welshpool community for working with my Government to deliver for King Island,” Premier Rockliff said.

“We have been working around the clock to find a resolution for our farmers after the Colac Otway Shire Council pulled out of talks earlier this week.

“Unfortunately, the decision of the Colac council has added additional time and cost to what should have been a simple task, but a commitment to helping our farmers from both Tasmania and the mainland has seen us come to a good solution.

“Hard working Victorian volunteers working with Need for Feed will now deliver the feed from northern Victoria to Port Welshpool for shipping to the island and we appreciate the efforts they have been putting in to help our farmers.

“It builds on the long friendships formed when Tasmanian farmers supported their Victorian counterparts following drought and fire in the past and shows that those living on the land share a common appreciation for dealing with hardship.

“I would also like to acknowledge the willingness of shipping operators to make their vessels available to deliver the feed from Welshpool to King Island,” Mr Rockliff said.

King Island is in the midst of a period of the lowest rainfall in 100 years and COSC’s intransigence has drawn furious criticism from the Tasmanian Framers Federation and others who put the original supply chain for the delivery together.