Blame game in play over scut­tled ship plan

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - MATTHEW DEN­HOLM

Re­crim­i­na­tions are un­der way af­ter Tas­ma­nia turned down a fed­eral govern­ment gift of a de­com­mis­sioned war­ship, end­ing plans to scut­tle it off the east coast as a dive at­trac­tion.

The plan to scut­tle HMAS Dar­win had split opin­ion in the Bay of Fires re­gion, with some lo­cals back­ing it as an eco­nomic boom but oth­ers con­cerned about im­pacts on the en­vi­ron­ment and the re­gion’s eco-tourism brand. State Growth Min­is­ter Peter Gutwein said the cost of pre­par­ing and sink­ing the 4000-tonne, 138m frigate was the key fac­tor in the de­ci­sion to turn down the of­fer. “Due dili­gence … has iden­ti­fied it would cost in ex­cess of $12 mil­lion to pre­pare and establish the ex-HMAS Dar­win as a dive wreck,” he said. “The de­part­ment found fur­ther on­go­ing costs (of) ap­prox­i­mately $600,000 per an­num … that would not be cov­ered by dive per­mit re­ceipts. The govern­ment be­lieves these re­sources would be bet­ter in­vested into health, ed­u­ca­tion or other ini­tia­tives that would pro­vide a greater ben­e­fit.”

St He­lens res­i­dent Lesa Whit­taker, who helped lead the fight against the wreck, hailed the “amaz­ing” de­ci­sion as sen­si­ble while Bicheno-based dive op­er­a­tor Peter Paulsen said it was “gut-wrench­ing”. He said fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies had sug­gested a max­i­mum cost of $7.5m; he ques­tioned why the govern­ment had bid for the ship only to turn it down when it was of­fered.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.