The Government of Tasmania has pulled the plug on plans for TT-Line to build two replacement ferries at Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions. Instead it is setting up a task force to look into building the vessels in Australia.
Premier Peter Gutwein said that with global and local economies impacted by COVID-19 it was vital the Tasmanian Government continue to make decisions that present the greatest opportunity for local and Australian manufacturers.
TT-Line, which is owned by the Tasmanian government, operates the ferry service linking Tasmania and mainland Australia. Its two current 1,400 passenger/500 car RoPax ships ships, Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, were built in 1998.
In 2018, the government approved a plan to build two replacement vessels at Germany’s Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG). More recently, with FSG’s financial troubles mounting, TT-Line signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RMC and submitted a new business case to the government.
That case has now been rejected and RMC today confirmed that TT-Line Company had formally withdrawn from the project. Production of the new fast RoPax ferries had been scheduled to commence in Rauma at the beginning of 2021.
“We have a choice right now to invest around $850 million offshore in Europe, or to explore all our options in this new post-COVID-19 environment to maximize benefits for Australian and Tasmanian businesses and the people they employ,” said Premier Gutwein. “Unashamedly, we are going to explore fully the option for this significant investment and the jobs it will underpin to be spent in Australia rather than Europe with a particular focus on Tasmanian manufacturers.”
Minister for Infrastructure Michael Ferguson said the government remains committed to building two new ships within the originally planned 2028 timeframe.
GOOD NEWS FOR INCAT
Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat, says it “enthusiastically looks forward to an opportunity to meet with the taskforce.”
“With a highly skilled workforce of over 600 people directly employed in Tasmania, and many thousands more supported through sub-contract and supplier arrangements throughout the country, Incat is supportive of keeping Australian dollars within Australia and maintaining and indeed growing the employment opportunities for all Australians during these troubled times,” said Chairman Robert Clifford.