Row flares over plan to sell wharf

CONTROVERSIAL MOVE: The possible sale of the wharf at the Triabunna mill site has led to a political blame game. Picture: MARK JESSER

CONTROVERSIAL MOVE: The possible sale of the wharf at the Triabunna mill site has led to a political blame game. Picture: MARK JESSER

A BLAME game has broken out between the state government and opposition over the possible sale of the wharf at the Triabunna mill site, with both parties labelling each other hypocrites.

Representatives of state-owned company TasPorts gave evidence at the inquiry into the sale of the Triabunna woodchip mill that the asset had become inaccessible since its sale to environmentalist and business partners Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood.

TasPorts chief executive Dr Dan Norton said discussions were under way to sell the wharf to Ms Cameron and Mr Wood.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green lashed out at the government and called on Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding to front up to the inquiry and explain what role he was playing in the possible sale of the wharf to Ms Cameron and Ms Wood.

‘‘It is obvious that the Liberals’ witch hunt has blown up in their faces and now one of their own ministers has questions to answer,’’ Mr Green said.

But Mr Hidding said sale discussions began under the previous government, and pointed the finger at former infrastructure minister David O’Byrne.

‘‘The fact is, TasPorts made a commercial decision to consider selling the Triabunna wharf after it was rendered inoperable when the Labor-Green government stood by and cheered on as the industry lost the Triabunna mill,’’ Mr Hidding said.

‘‘As a result of the decision by the Labor-Green government, the wharf is no longer an asset, rather it is a distinct cash-draining liability,’’ he said.

Mr Green said when the Liberals were in opposition they were ‘‘beating their chests about compulsory acquisitions of the Triabunna mill’’.

‘‘The government later engaged in backroom conversations about selling the wharf to the very people they suggested the mill should be taken off,’’ Mr Green said.

Triabunna Chamber of Commerce president Debbie Wisby told the inquiry on Wednesday  the wharf could be used to boost the region by accommodating large commercial fishing vessels or as a ferry terminal.

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