Premier Peter Gutwein has denied claims from Labor that the Prime Minister pressured him to abandon plans to have the replacement Spirit of Tasmania ferries built in Finland.
The state government signed a memorandum of understanding with Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions but in February canned this option and established a taskforce to investigate opportunities to build the ships in Australia.
“This was a very difficult decision for government but what we had to take into account was the simple fact we have been through a pandemic and around the world there will be a recession,” Mr Gutwein said in Question Time yesterday.
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“This country will go into a recession, and in making the most significant investment that this state will make in built tourism infrastructure, the government decided to pause to see what level of investment we could attract back here into Tasmania.”
Opposition infrastructure spokesman Shane Broad asked the Premier if Prime Minister Scott Morrison had pressed him to abandon the arrangement with RMC.
“The Prime Minister put no pressure on me in terms of scuttling this process as you have suggested,” Mr Gutwein replied. “What the Prime Minister was though, I can assure you, [was] very supportive of the view that we wanted to see every dollar possible invested either in this state or in this country.”
Western Australia-based company Austal has thrown its hat in the ring to build the new Spirits, as has Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat.
Austal has said it would build the hulls in the Philippines and complete the fit-out in Australia.
“This is not what the Liberals promised Tasmanians,” Dr Broad said.
“There are no Tasmanian jobs in the Philippines and there are no Tasmanian jobs at Austal in Western Australia where the ships are proposed to be fitted out.
“The approach taken by the Liberals is not creating jobs, it is creating uncertainty.”
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