The Opposition is accusing the State Government of wasting $330,000 of taxpayers' money dredging the wrong area for the ex-HMAS Tobruk.
The Opposition is accusing the State Government of wasting $330,000 of taxpayers' money dredging the wrong area for the ex-HMAS Tobruk. Trevor Walden

Whoops! Govt accused of dredging wrong spot for Tobruk

CLAIMS the State Government has bungled dredging work in the Port of Bundaberg, costing taxpayers $330,000, have been denied.

The Opposition is accusing the State Government of dredging the wrong area for the scuttling of the ex-HMAS Tobruk.

But the government refutes this, with Environment Minister Steven Miles telling a budget estimates hearing that the dredging site was "appropriate, useful and beneficial to the port".

Last week the LNP's Andrew Powell was questioning the minister and Gladstone Ports Corporation CEO Peter O'Sullivan regarding ex-HMAS Tobruk and the dredging.

"Could you confirm the site that was dredged at the Port of Bundaberg will now not actually be used to house the Tobruk while it is undertaking that preparatory work?" Mr Powell asked.

"It was always the case that that dredging had to occur in order to evaluate whether the site was appropriate to house the Tobruk," Dr Miles replied.

Mr Powell then asked Mr O'Sullivan if it was only after the dredging happened that Maritime Safety Queensland consulted with the port authority, the harbourmaster and local industry to determine it was not the best site for housing the Tobruk during its preparatory work.

"The works were undertaken under the auspices of National Parks," Mr Sullivan said.

"As part of their initial assessment, both the port authority and MSQ were involved in an assessment of the dredge location.

"The dredge location was selected because it is an area that will be required to be dredged in the future, and therefore any dredging undertaken would be part of future development works."

Burnett MP Stephen Bennett, who was at the hearing, said it was a "bureaucratic bungle" by Labor.

Mr Bennett says if the port did not use the dredged area soon, it would fill up with silt and need to be dug up again, wasting even more money.

"I'm disappointed people are scrambling to cover this up," Mr Bennett said.

"They've spent a lot of taxpayers' money on the dredging to find out it didn't appear to be in the right spot."

A Queensland Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman said the Bundaberg port site was subject to ongoing maintenance dredging as part of the port's capital dredging program.

"So, either way, it's a necessary government expense that will offset future dredging costs," she said.

"There are no further requirements to find or dredge any other site to accommodate the ex-HMAS Tobruk."

About the Tobruk

EX-HMAS Tobruk will be scuttled later this year and open as a world-class dive site by 2019, according to budget estimate hearings.

Environment Minister Steven Miles made the remarks when asked to give an update on the ship.

"Port approvals and all the necessary preparations have been undertaken, and tender processes are progressing on time for a head contractor who will dismantle the ship, remove all contaminants and prepare her as a dive site," he said.

"It is anticipated that the ship will be scuttled in late 2018 at a location within the Great Sandy Marine Park between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg and be open to the public as a premier dive site and tourist attraction for the Fraser Coast and Wide Bay area in early 2019."

It will complement seasonal location attractions, including whale watching and the Mon Repos turtle experience.



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