Tasmanians have been provided with no confidence that the new Spirits of Tasmania vessels will be delivered on time by March 2021.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Michael Ferguson, appeared before Government Business Enterprise hearings with an alarming lack of answers regarding the biggest infrastructure project in the state’s history.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Shane Broad, said the secrecy surrounding the project was unacceptable.
“It is going on two years since German shipyard FSG was announced as the preferred shipbuilder for the new Spirit of Tasmania vessels,” Dr Broad said.
“The Minister could not answer when a deposit will be paid, when components will be ordered, when construction will begin, when the ships will be delivered or even whether they will be built by FSG.
“Michael Ferguson does not have a good record when it comes to delivering major infrastructure projects on time or on budget.
“The new Spirits look set to join his list of failures including the delayed Royal Hobart Hospital, the stalled Bridgewater Bridge and abandoned projects like the underground bus mall.”
The Minister also left the door open to cutting ties with Station Pier in St Kilda.
It is understood the works required to accommodate the new vessels at Station Pier will cost in excess of $200 million and that this will be recouped through rent increases.
“The Minister could not say how those upgrades would be paid for, only that he would not accept unreasonable charges and would find an alternative berth if necessary,” Dr Broad said.
“If the ships are going to berth at Geelong, Williamstown, Hastings or any other port, passengers and freight customers deserve to know.
“Any alternative to Station Pier would require careful consideration and consultation, particularly in relation to access to markets for freight customers.”
Shane Broad MP
Shadow Infrastructure Minister