Military dive wreck case put to Defence Minister

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A plan to create a military dive wreck in waters between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay has taken another step forward, following a positive meeting with the Federal Defence Minister in Canberra.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Regional Development Australia Wide Bay Burnett Chair Bill Trevor met with Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence Darren Chester last week.

“Both Minister Andrews and Mr Chester were receptive to our proposal, and the work that has been done within the community and by the Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Government is yet to make a decision about the recently decommissioned HMAS Tobruk, which has strong links to our region and is the target of our interest.  Defence is also due to decommission a range of other vessels in the next few years, which may also be suitable.”

RDA Wide Bay Burnett Chair Bill Trevor, who presented a business case to the pair on behalf of the Advisory Group, said economic modelling showed a military dive wreck would contribute $1.4 million annually to the regional economy.

“Previous military dive wrecks have proven very popular with both domestic and international diver tourists. A dive wreck would create yet another attraction for the region alongside our existing natural assets such as whale watching, Mon Repos and Fraser Island,” Mr Trevor said.

“We still have a real battle on our hands with a lot of red and green tape to get through, and to convince the Department of Defence that this is the best outcome for Tobruk.”

Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group coordinator Scott Rowe said the business case outlined the preferred site for the vessel.

“It is proposed the vessel be scuttled in 34 metres of water, almost halfway between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. The site was selected by the group due to smooth currents, good visibility, abundance of marine life and the fact it will not impact on commercial fishing grounds or shipping channels,” Mr Rowe said.

“Minister Andrews advised that if we were unsuccessful in securing Tobruk, there are other navy vessels scheduled to be decommissioned and replaced over the next decade. It is now up to our regional leaders to get behind the push and show their support.”

It is expected a decision on Tobruk’s future will be made within the next three months.

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