BRIEFING: Shadow minister for environment, science and the Great Barrier Reef David Crisafulli and MP Stephen Bennett read a Department of Environment and Science briefing note.
BRIEFING: Shadow minister for environment, science and the Great Barrier Reef David Crisafulli and MP Stephen Bennett read a Department of Environment and Science briefing note. Katie Hall

Council's $350k Tobruk payback

BUNDABERG Regional Council has received about one third of its contribution towards the scuttling of ex-HMAS Tobruk back from the State Government.

The council was given $350,000 which was pulled from what remained of the unspent Tobruk scuttling project funds. The repayment was one of several recommendations made in briefing notes, obtained by the LNP from the Department of Environment and Science.

The briefing notes outlined the remaining unspent $700,000 was what remained of Bundaberg and Fraser Coast council's financial funding.

A council spokesman told the NewsMail "constructive discussions" had been conducted with the Department of Environment and Science.

"Council received $350,000 from the State Government earlier this month," the spokesman said.

Out of the total $10 million injected into the project, $8 million from the State Government, the briefing notes (dated from September) stated $2.4 million of "unallocated project funds" remained.

Shadow environment minister David Crisafulli said despite the repayments by the Labor government, the buck had to stop somewhere.

Speaking to media in Bundaberg yesterday, he called for the State Government to admit ownership.

Mr Crisafulli claimed decisions by the State Government to appease environmentalists by not using explosives to scuttle the ship was a key reason the ship sank on its starboard side.

"This wasn't about putting the environment first ... it was about creating a talking point that they were doing the green thing, and what the green thing has ended up being is an unmitigated disaster," Mr Crisafulli said.

"The government are not going after the contractor who didn't manage to put the boat the right way up, and there is a simple reason for that; it's because they (State Government) told them to do it. They told them not to use explosives."

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch denounced Mr Crisafulli's claims, saying the LNP was "lying to the public".

Ms Enoch said the decision to not use explosives to scuttle the Tobruk was made by scuttling contractors Birdon.

"The tender documents outlined a range of scuttling methods, including the use of explosives," Ms Enoch said.

"At no point did the government instruct the contractor not to use explosives."

In October, the State Government announced it would provide $1 million towards a marketing campaign to boost tourism opportunities for the wreck.

The NewsMail put questions to Ms Enoch about whether that $1 million had come from the remaining unspent project funds, but no answer was provided.

Mr Crisafulli, when asked if he thought the funds for the campaign were a sign of moving forward, said it was a positive step but it was "also an admission of how badly this has been run".

He did not say whether the LNP had sought the opinion of a scuttling company to confirm whether or not explosives would have made a difference in the ship's final orientation, rather than flooding the vessel with pneumatically operated valves.

Ms Enoch said councils, dive operators and tourism industry officials were now looking ahead.

Mayor Jack Dempsey welcomed the marketing campaign, saying the Tobruk would be a tourism drawcard.

"There's no point dwelling on the past or playing a blame game," Cr Dempsey said. "A tremendous opportunity now exists to market our region to the world and offer a unique wreck-dive experience."



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