The Rockliff-Ferguson government has completely botched the replacement of the Spirit of Tasmania vessels, with their delivery date blowing out yet again while Tasmanians can’t even get on board the existing ferries.
Before the 2018 election, the Liberals promised that the first of the new Spirit of Tasmania vessels would be delivered in 2021 and that Tasmanian businesses would be involved in the fit-out.
But after cancelling the original contract with German shipbuilder FSG, the former Premier Peter Gutwein announced a deal with Finnish builder RMC, before putting that on hold in 2020, only to backflip again and announce the Spirits would be built in Finland after all.
Not only did this delay the first vessel’s delivery until 2023, the government’s dithering and flip-flopping also blew out the cost of the project from $688 million to at least $850 million.
Now, with Michael Ferguson still the shareholder Minister, the project has again been delayed, with the Spirit of Tasmania website stating that the first of the two vessels now won’t arrive until the first quarter of 2024.
The fact is that if the government had kept its initial promise, Tasmanian businesses would have already been involved in supplying things like beds, cabins, specialty timbers, life rafts and other equipment.
But instead, there is one contract in place to supply content, the vessels won’t be here for at least another two years, and Tasmanians are having increasing difficulty booking passage across Bass Strait because there is not enough capacity on the existing Spirits.
The Rockliff-Ferguson government has continued the tradition of previous Liberal governments of failing to deliver the basics. This process has been a debacle from the word go and it is Tasmanians who are losing out.
Rebecca White MP