REDLAND City Council has lost a staunch battle to have ex-HMAS Tobruk scuttled off North Stradbroke Island as a dive site.
Mayor Karen Williams, local tourism operators and islanders had fought hard to have the old warship brought to the Redlands.
Part of their argument was based on the need to further develop tourism as an industry to replace mining as Sibelco’s operations close on the island.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones announced that the Wide Bay region would get the ship.
“The Queensland government received a number of strong proposals from other coastal councils, and all presented excellent arguments to host the ex-HMAS Tobruk,’’ she said.
“The Fraser Coast, in partnership with Bundaberg, was able to present the most compelling case that a dive site in its area would deliver the most benefit.
“This is a great win for the Fraser Coast area and a great win for Queensland as the chosen state to be the final resting place for the ex-HMAS Tobruk.
“...The Fraser Coast offers an amazing array of activities including whale watching, ancient rainforest and stunning coastline and a world-class dive site will perfectly complement the tourism offerings in the region.
“...I would like to thank other councils for providing strong bids which were thoroughly reviewed by a team of experts.’’
Cr Williams said she was disappointed Redlands was not successful but congratulated Wide Bay.
“This is particularly disheartening given the urgent need for a transition out of mining to other industries at Straddie by 2019,’’ she said.
“Scuttling this ship would have been a perfect opportunity for the state and federal governments to get behind Redlands to support local jobs and tourism, especially given the short time frame and inadequate state funding to support a realistic economic transition.
“Redlands was commended on its expression of interest ... however it is understood that the economic impact to our region was not considered to be as significant as that for other regions.
“It’s a significant achievement that the ex-warship will be coming to Queensland.
“...While our hopes might be sunk on this occasion, we will not give up on bringing economic opportunities to our city including looking for other vessels to sink to enhance diving tourism. We gave it a good fight and I am sure gave those selecting the resting spot for this ship something to think about.
“I would like to thank those community members across the Redlands and further who threw their support and creativity behind our campaign to Sink Tobruk for Straddie.”
Quandamooka spokesman Cameron Costello said he was disappointed that Straddie missed out but appreciated how the community and council had got behind the idea.
“It would have been great but we gave it a good crack,’’ he said. “I think we should all be proud of the effort.
“It’s sad for us but at the end of the day, I’m just glad it went to somewhere in regional Queensland.’’
Ex-HMAS Tobruk will sail north from Sydney this month.
Ms Jones said the government would clean, prepare and scuttle Tobruk.
It takes up to two years to finalise these preparations and the site is expected to be ready in late 2018.
Cleveland MP Mark Robinson said Stradbroke residents had been sold out yet again by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
He said Labor had shut down the island’s mine and now shut down hope.
“I can't help being sad for Straddie,’’ he said.
The government proposes to spend about $28 million on North Stradbroke Island’s transition-from-mining package.
Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson said it was a huge win for her region.
“We have already seen the success from the ex-HMAS Brisbane dive site off the Sunshine Coast and the ex-HMAS Tobruk site will attract dive enthusiasts from around the world to our backyard,” Ms Donaldson said.
“These tourists will generate jobs and economic benefit for our local economy especially in dive tourism and service industries.’’