Constituency Statement – What is the State Government doing about Tobruk?
Mr PITT (Hinkler—Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) (10:33): I rise to inform the House of the status of HMAS Tobruk. As everyone knows, it was a long fight for the people of my electorate to have HMAS Tobruk delivered into our region to be a dive wreck. We were successful some time ago when Minister Marise Payne announced that the Tobruk would be provided to Queensland. We were successful—I have to say, in consultation and conjunction with the Queensland Labor State Government—in having the Tobruk delivered into the Hervey Bay area. It was placed basically between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, in around 30 metres of water. We and the state government were successful in preparing the ship for scuttling—which took quite some time, I have to say. We were successful in getting the ship into position. But, unfortunately, on the very last day, at the very last hurdle, when the ship was scuttled on 29 June, the ship turned onto its side and is now resting on the bottom on its starboard side in 30 metres of water.
Don’t get me wrong—this will still be a fantastic dive site. But it will not be the site which we developed, which we fought for and which would have provided the greatest economic benefit. The reason for that is quite simple. If HMAS Tobruk had been intended to be on its side, we would have scuttled it in much shallower water. The capacity for less experienced divers to experience HMAS Tobruk as a dive site is now much more limited. And I say to the Queensland State Labor Government: it’s now time. The ship was scuttled on 29 June. They put out a press release on 9 July to say that they were investigating and looking to scope opportunities. They made statements to the Courier Mail.
In fact, Minister Leeanne Enoch said on 1 August that she is unable to say how much it will cost to right the botched scuttling of the ex-HMAS Tobruk. Here we find ourselves on 15 August no further progressed.
As all of us know, the longer this ship stays on its side at the bottom of the ocean, the more difficult it will be to put it into the position in which it should be. I say to the state Labor government again: surely the contractor was insured—that is what insurance is for; that is its purpose—and we should activate that insurance through the contractor. If it was not insured, clearly that is their fault and that is their incompetence. It’s up to the Queensland State Labor Government.
It is past time to make a decision on what they are doing with this ship. Our operators need to be able to access it. They need to maximise the economic benefit, because for our region it means jobs. There is nothing more important than jobs in our region. That is why we fought so hard to deliver this ship to our region. I congratulate all of those involved, including state members, senators and local councillors, who contributed their hard-earned to get this to fruition.
In closing, I congratulate Senator Steve Martin from Tasmania for securing a dive wreck for Tassie. They were our competitor at the time. They now have a ship of their own.