As uncertainty reigns over the timeline of unrestricted interstate and international travel, you'd be forgiven for thinking tourism is at the back of many minds.
However, Tasmania's capacity for travel has been thrown back into the spotlight as debate rages around just who will build the replacement Spirit of Tasmania vessels.
The state government spectacularly withdrew from its memorandum of understanding with Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions in July, when it announced with would seek options closer to home for the new ships. In another twist, Australian company Austal revealed its pitch for the contract, which would see the hulls constructed internationally, then floated back to Australia for fit-out.
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Austal is the second business to pitch for the contract, with Tasmanian catamaran business Incat also proposing they could build the ships. The impact of the COVID health crisis on the Australian economy has been swift and debilitating - many people lost their jobs and businesses are only staying afloat thanks to the JobKeeper subsidy.
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Motivation from Premier Peter Gutwein to withdraw from the agreement with Rauma Marine could be seen as a noble way to keep jobs and income in Tasmania and Australia, or a populist decision designed with politics (and future elections) in mind. Whichever way you think it has played out, there still remain some questions that need to be answered about the build - will this decision mean the new ships will be delayed even longer? Also - how will they guarantee Tasmania gets its fair share?
Manufacturing in Tasmania and Australia is a small industry at the moment, due to federal decisions, and has left us reliant on global markets, expertise and skill.
The new Spirit of Tasmania ships presents an opportunity (if done well), but only if it capitalises for the state - and any proposal to build them in Australia needs to prove how it will deliver for Tasmanian jobs.
Because if Tasmanians have to bear a delay in the project, and tourists need to wait longer to see modern vessels, then the project ought to be worth the wait. And that only happens if there is a tangible benefit.