Politician responds to claims Tobruk scuttling was ‘failure’
MINISTER for Environment Leeanne Enoch has hit back at Burnett MP Stephen Bennett after he declared the scuttling of the ex-HMAS Tobruk a "devastating failure".
When the ex-HMAS Tobruk was scuttled in waters off Hervey Bay on June 29, it unexpectedly sank on its side and settled on the ocean floor on the starboard side.
It is yet to be determined by diving experts whether tourism will be affected by the positioning of the vessel.
"It is disappointing that the LNP is talking down this important tourism opportunity for the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast regions," she said.
"Advice from dive operators indicates that in its current position, the wreck will cater to all levels of diving, with the port side currently sitting in about 12m of water and allows many identifiable features to be accessed."
On Monday, Mr Bennett said he was saddened by the result of the scuttling considering it was "a culmination of a five-year campaign".
"Our community was promised a global phenomenon to bring in much-needed national and international tourism opportunities, yet all we have now is an ex-navy ship rotting away at the bottom of the ocean that can only be accessed by very few extremely experienced divers."
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Mr Bennett said the Labor Government was reluctant to admit the Tobruk's positioning meant intermediate divers would not be able to access the dive site and ultimately remove half the market pitched to originally.
"I'm told that even the more advanced divers will have trouble diving this site as it is," he said.
"It's an absolute catastrophe for our community, and an insult to those who served on this beautiful ship.
"If the Labor Government thinks that because the navy ship is out of sight it will be out of mind, they've got another thing coming. I won't let this go. There's some important questions that need to be answered.
"One has to wonder whether the Government pressured the contractor to go ahead with the scuttling given that it had been rescheduled twice already, even if the conditions weren't ideal.
"Has the contractor been paid by the government, and what's the cost to rectify the bungle?
"Dive operators have invested so much in anticipation of what was supposed to be a world-class dive site. Will they be compensated?"
Ms Enoch responded to Mr Bennett's claim stating the Government did not interfere with the scuttling process.
"Professional contractors were engaged to undertake this important work and expert advice determined the timing of the scuttling," she said.
"Any suggestion to the contrary is completely false."
The contractor is undertaking inspections and will be submitting a report to the Government.