Military dive chances double with two ships offered
THE chances of a new military dive site for the Wide Bay has doubled thanks to a second ship on offer by the defence department.
It follows an announcement on Friday by Minister for Defence Marise Payne both the decommissioned HMAS Tobruk and HMAS Sydney Navy vessels would be given to the states or territories.
"There are significant challenges with preparing ex-Navy vessels for dive wrecks to assure the safety of recreational divers, however I appreciate the tourism and economic benefits that the creation of a dive wreck can have to local communities," Minister Payne said.
The scuttling of the HMAS Tobruk between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg could boost the Wide Bay economy by about $4 million every year.
The vessel will need to be inspected by state officials in June before the Federal Government will decide whether the ship will be given to Queensland.
While the HMAS Tobruk Military Dive Experience project was backed by Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones last month, Member for Wide Bay Keith Pitt has called for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to accept the gift in advance.
"I am calling on the Premier to put her hand up for Queensland, put her hand up for jobs in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg and secure this vessel," he said.
"We need our local state Labor members to get on the phone and demand that the Premier secures this ship and secures jobs for Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast region."
Since August last year, the Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group has lobbied for the ship to be sunk between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg.
The Defence Department had considered selling the ship for scrap metal or giving to a neighbouring Navy, Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group member Scott Rowe said.