Dive wreck plan scuttled
THE State Government has sunk plans to scuttle former warship HMAS Darwin off the East Coast after an investigation of costs found the project “financially unfeasible”.
The Federal Government this year offered Tasmania the former Navy vessel to serve as a dive wreck in the Bay of Fires’ Skeleton Bay after years of lobbying from local groups.
State Growth Minister Peter Gutwein said his department’s analysis revealed it would cost the Government about $12.5 million to prepare and establish ex-HMAS Darwin as a dive site.
Ongoing costs would amount to more than $600,000 a year, he said, adding it would have cost the Government about $330,000 to underpin each of the 36 associated jobs.
“The Government believes these resources would be better invested into health, education or other initiatives that would provide a greater benefit to the state,” Mr Gutwein said.
“We thank the Commonwealth for their offer, however, the costs associated with the project have rendered it financially unfeasible.”
Bay of Fires Dive owner Peter Paulsen, who has been pushing for an East Coast dive wreck for 17 years, said the decision was “not about a lack of funding, but about a lack of courage”.
“We can’t argue that they want to put good money into health and education, but that investment in those areas doesn’t provide the North-East corner of Tasmania with an economic foundation,” Mr Paulsen said. ”I still believe and always have believed we have an absolutely perfect site for this sort of venture ... it’s there to be done.”
Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam broke ranks with his state counterparts to label the decision “disappointing”.
“This is a blow to the St Helens community who were ex- cited at the prospect of this new tourism attraction and the possible economic activity it would generate,” Senator Duniam said.
But Break O’Day Mayor Mick Tucker said he understood why the project had been knocked back. The Tourism Industry Council Tasmania also backed the Government’s move, chief executive Luke Martin said.