Transport, freight and fair access for Kangaroo Island businesses remain the number one concerns for Business Kangaroo Island (BKI) members and for KI residents.

Ferry: Weather events and the resulting ferry cancellations cause disruptions to KI businesses and residents. Photo: Steve Howell.
Ferry: Weather events and the resulting ferry cancellations cause disruptions to KI businesses and residents. Photo: Steve Howell.

Transport, freight and fair access for Kangaroo Island businesses remain the number one concerns for Business Kangaroo Island (BKI) members and KI residents.

The BKI committee has advocated and lobbied on behalf of KI businesses all year on the issue and is continuing to do so, as negotiations continue on the upcoming new contract and lease for port facilities at Penneshaw and Cape Jervis.

BKI’s objective is to ensure the needs of business are considered in any new contract, that there is fair pricing, security of services and the opportunity for competition.

BKI has asked both Minister Mullighan and Commissioner for Kangaroo Island Wendy Campana for access to the Parson Brinckerhoff report prepared a few years ago about the cost of transport to Kangaroo Island.

Unfortunately, according to Minister Mullighan, the document is commercially sensitive and cannot be released for viewing.

Questions were asked of Minister Mullighan at the recent public forum of Community Cabinet in the Kingscote Town Hall.

Ministers Tom Koutsantonis and Martin Hamilton-Smith were made aware of requests that business on KI is to be considered in any transport negotiations.

In a letter to Minister Mullighan dated September 8 2017, BKI stated, “Considering the $171 million of approved and proposed developments to be undertaken in the next few years, we are beginning to see increases in commerce and workforce needs and therefore increases in passenger and freight movement.

“It is a concern of businesses, that at times, the ferry service is struggling to meet the current demand.

“In the past couple of years weather events and the resulting ferry cancellations (during the winter period especially) are becoming a norm and a massive disruption to the island businesses and tourism economy.

“Consequently, cost, availability and reliability of the ferry service is a potential limiting factor for general business growth as well as tourism.”

Also that, “Businesses on KI feel that the ferry service to the mainland is an essential service and as such minimum service levels must be met in all seasons.

BKI go on to say that in a recent interview, the Premier of WA, the Hon Mark McGowan stated that, “The more operators you have, the more competitive the market and certainly when it comes to these sorts of operations it provides the opportunity for additional downwards pressure on prices, and hopefully it attracts more tourists as a consequence”. 

BKI finish their letter to Minister Mullighan with, “These sentiments allow us to reflect on the Kangaroo Island service and what could be.”

Minister Mullighan has stated that Sealink’s licence agreement extends to 2024 and the State Government has engaged the Essential Services Commission of SA to conduct an independent inquiry, the objective being to deliver a more affordable fare structure for passengers and freight on the KI Sealink ferry service.

Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie has been asked for her assistance where possible and Sealink Manager Donna Gauci has agreed to provide information regarding Sealink’s position.