Media reports in which the Queensland Government appeared to question the historic significance of Tasmanian ketch Defender will be relied upon in a $31 million lawsuit against the government over the ship's demolition.
Tasmanian salvage expert Brett Devine provided further detail to the Queensland Supreme Court this week, outlining several internal emails he alleged showed Maritime Safety Queensland had no intention of allowing Defender to be salvaged by him.
Mr Devine had an oral agreement with the ship's former owner, Les Dick, to transfer ownership on February 27, 2016. The circa-1895 ship had sunk in Ross River in Townsville on January 4.
MSQ took possession of the ship itself on February 29.
It was dismantled in June 2017, with artefacts put on display at the Townsville Maritime Museum.
Mr Devine included several media reports in his updated statement of claim, which he alleged showed the Queensland Government denied the historic significance of Defender.
A Townsville Bulletin report from May, 2017, quoted the Queensland Ports Minister Mark Bailey saying "I'm advised the Defender is not of historic significance and is better classified as a replica". Mr Bailey also stated the ship had fallen into such "disrepair" that it "sank at its mooring" leaving the taxpayer to foot the clean-up bill.
An ABC report in June 2017, quoted an independent survey carried out by MSQ which found Defender had no historic significance and was better classed as a "replica".
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Defender was believed to be the last surviving Bass Strait ketch, operating for 40 years transporting timber and cargo between Tasmania and the mainland.
Mr Devine intended to salvage the ship for use as a training ship with the Adelaide Nautical College.
He entered the verbal agreement with Mr Dick after an affordable salvor was unable to be obtained within the timeframe provided by MSQ for Defender to be removed.
Mr Devine filed the original claim in the Queensland Supreme Court last month, seeking $26.3 million in estimated costs to rebuild Defender, $356,000 for loss of income and $4.4 million in interest.
The Queensland Government will respond to the claim later this month.