Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has hit out at Tasmania’s senior federal Liberals, saying they have not fought hard enough to ensure HMAS Tobruk is scuttled near St Helens.
There are only 10 days left for the Tobruk Skeleton Bay group to submit a detailed application to acquire the ship, but project manager Peter Paulsen said they needed more support.
An estimated $10 million is required to complete the project, but Senator Lambie said it is money the state government does not have.
“In the past the navy has paid for the refurbishment and sinking of ships, and that has now stopped … but a precedent has already been set, and we are the only state that still does not have a military ship sunk for diving purposes and I believe that tradition should go on,” she said.
“It’s up to the federal Liberals to start delivering, we want that ten million dollars for Tasmania to get it sunk here.”
Mr Paulsen said he believed the total cost of the project had been overblown.
“The $10 million figure has been out there since 2011 and was pulled out of senate estimates ... in our briefing trip to Sydney we went through the ship with some technical advisors and the reality is the true cost of sinking the ship would be less than $5 million,” he said.
While the group is still working towards the goal, the project is at significant risk.
“We are still certainly finding some resistance and confusion with the way the state government is responding to this, and we’ve been trying to find some consensus on the way the bid should be presented to the navy,” Mr Paulsen said,
Senator Lambie will visit the East Coast on Friday to discuss the need for further funding for the tourism venture.
“They are really feeling it around these areas whether it be the North, the North-West, or the East Coast or West Coast, they are feeling the pressure terribly,” she said.
“It will bring about $5 million a year into the economy around the East Coast.”