Labor deserves some credit for nailing its colours to the mast on the Spirit replacements.
Oppositions tend to resist calls to state a position on contentious issues.
Their opportunity comes politically from attacking the incumbent government over its chosen course by raising concerns and asking the difficult questions.
That’s all within the role of being in opposition; of holding a government to account.
To be seen as more than that, as a credible alternative, an opposition needs to be seen to stand for something, which, of course, comes with a risk.
On the weekend Labor’s infrastructure spokesperson, Dr Shane Broad, said having the next Bass Strait ferries built by a shipyard in Finland was the preferred option.
This was TT-Line’s position before it was rejected by the Liberal government in the hope of securing more Tasmanian – or at least Australian – jobs in the build.
But Dr Broad went further by pouring cold water on a proposal by Austal, the nation’s largest shipbuilder and defence exporter.
The proposal to build the hulls and much of the superstructure of the two vessels in a South-East Asian shipyard and bring them to Australia for completion was “getting into unknown territory”, he said.
He’s right in the sense the idea, and it is largely only an idea for now, would carry with it greater risks of cost overruns and delays than the alternative.
Contracting to a European yard for basically the entire project would be a safer bet, but would not deliver as much in the way of local employment.
Politically, however, it is actually Labor that is taking the greater risk here because it is unlikely the problems it is foreseeing would be evident before the next election, due in a little more than a year and a half.
Over that time, the government may be able to build excitement in the project and in the benefits it promises for Tasmania.
All the way to the ballot box the Liberals will be able to argue that, in contrast to their own plan, Labor wants to ship jobs overseas.
Dr Broad and Labor have taken a position, but it is one that will have come as a happy surprise to the government.