All hands on deck for dive wreck

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Tourism operators and local politicians took to the water today to show Darren Chester, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, why Wide Bay is the ideal location for a dive wreck.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said he was delighted Mr Chester had accepted his invitation, following positive discussions in Canberra.

“Local support for the proposal has grown significantly since I first floated the idea with Mr Chester in May,” Mr Pitt said.

“Senator James McGrath, State Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen, Fraser Coast Regional Council and local tourism operators – such as Brian and Jill Perry – are all on board.

“Hervey Bay already has the infrastructure and skills needed to support a scuba diving industry, and operators are crying out for a new tourist attraction to keep boats in the water from December to June when the whales are not migrating.

“Military dive wrecks in similar regions have been estimated to be worth about $5 million per year to the local economy, boosting trade for retail, hospitality and accommodation businesses.

“Not only would it give divers an opportunity to explore a part of Australia’s history in an underwater world, the wreck would also provide additional habitat for local marine life.

“Mr Chester’s visit is a positive step in the right direction and demonstrates The National Party’s commitment to long term economic development in regional Australia.”

Mr Chester said he was pleased to have been invited to Hervey Bay by the Member for Hinkler, to discuss potential options for future decommissioned naval vessels.

“For communities like Hervey Bay, regional tourism plays an important role in the economic development through the promotion of jobs and small business initiatives,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester also took the opportunity to inspect the new Freedom Park Memorial, before meeting with local veterans groups at Hervey Bay RSL.

“The light horse monument is an impressive testament to the work of the Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch, and shows just how much the local community values the sacrifices made by our service men and women,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester and Mr Pitt also inspected facilities and equipment, including a new safety boat, at the local Australian Naval Cadet unit, Training Ship Krait, in Urangan.

The unit supports 27 naval cadets and, in August, received a new RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) from the Federal Government. The RHIB is used as a Safety Boat for all navy cadet waterborne activities, as well as boat coxswain training.

“Navy sponsorship of the Australian Navy Cadets is a significant investment in the youth of Australia,” Mr Chester said.

“Australia’s Navy Cadet organisation has nearly 2900 youth around Australia participating in activities that build leadership, self-reliance, confidence, teamwork and communication.

“The Government provides support to the Navy Cadet program in a variety of ways, so the program can keep its training activities fresh and challenging.

“Providing TS Krait’s new safety boat is an example of the Government’s support to cadets, which is returned ten-fold in the development of these young men and women and how they contribute to their local community.”

As part of the visit, Mr Pitt also facilitated a meeting between Mr Chester, Bundaberg Regional Council and other stakeholders to discuss the Port of Bundaberg’s existing capabilities and potential to be a support base for Defence vessels.

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814