What would you trade for a navy frigate dive wreck? Darwin’s Mayor wants to haggle


By Manika Dadson

Posted

August 11, 2018 10:26:17

What should Tasmania be willing to trade with Darwin in return for a decommissioned navy ship?

According to Darwin’s Lord Mayor: “You have our ship — we’ll have your trains.”

Defence Minister Marise Payne announced on Thursday a Tasmanian bid for the ex-HMAS Darwin to be scuttled at Skeleton Bay near St Helens, to be used as a dive wreck, had been successful.

The State Government is now assessing the costs associated with the scuttling to determine if it will accept the vessel.

Darwin’s Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis told the ABC he was disappointed ex-HMAS Darwin won’t be “laid to rest” in the Northern Territory, and that Tasmania should perhaps offer something as a trade.

“I’ll go shopping a have a look and see what I can ask for,” he said.

“You might have a couple of old steam engines, feel free to send a couple of them up here we’d love to have them on display.”

ABC Hobart audience members suggested the state could perhaps gift Darwin some scallop pies, a cable car for Stokes Hill, or a North Hobart hipster in exchange for the ship.

While the Northern Territory Government didn’t make a bid for the vessel, Alderman Vatskalis said the Darwin City Council did.

“We asked for it. I personally wrote to the Minister for Defence asking for it. The Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling, asked for it. The World War II Museum asked for it, and we were told it hadn’t been decided yet and we’ll let you know,” Alderman Vatskalis said.

“We never got a response — I only find out from the media it’s heading down your way [to Tasmania].”

“That for me is a slap in the face for our people here in Darwin.

“People say Tasmania’s a better diving spot. Perhaps it is, but let’s give the ship to where it really belongs, the place that bears its name.”

Interestingly, Tasmania does have its own associations with Darwin.

A former town in the state’s north-west was called Darwin and the Braddon electorate used to be known as the division of Darwin.

There’s even a Darwin Football Association in the north-west, which involves the Queenstown Football Club, Somerset Football Clun and South Burnie Football Club, to name a few.

Tasmanian Tourism Council not sold on dive wreck proposal

The Break O’Day Council believes making the ship a dive wreck of the east coast will make the region the “action-packed capital of Tasmania”.

It’s hoped more tourists will be drawn to the state because of the sunken ship, but not everyone is convinced.

Tourism Council of Tasmania Chief Executive Luke Martin said the “interesting” idea to sink the ship and make it into a dive wreck needed to be fully tested by the State Government.

“Frankly it’s just not a priority for us,” Mr Martin said.

“We need to keep in reason the level of investment and what else we can do with that kind of money.

“Several millions of dollars to rehabilitate it and sink it, well that’s several millions of dollars you could be putting into bike tracks on the north-east, road upgrades, product development in the town.”

“The reality is those things generate significantly more numbers than the sort of numbers that have been quoted at an optimistic level off this dive wreck.”

Todd Dudley, from the North East Bioregional Network, said he was disappointed by the decision and worried about the potential effects on the environment.

“The chances that we’re going to get 7,000 people a year coming down to dive on this wreck’s highly unlikely,” he said.

“There have been complications with other boats being sunk like the HMAS Canberra which broke up off Ocean Grove and bits of it started washing up on the beach, and HMAS Adelaide, where there’s been issues with lead paint and PCBs [industrial chemicals] from it.”

Topics:

travel-and-tourism,

lifestyle-and-leisure,

human-interest,

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