LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch says he is “gutted” at the Federal Government’s announcement today that the $2B Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement contract will not go to the Cairns consortium.
Mr Entsch has spoken to prime contractor Teekay and consortium member BSE, and expressed his very strong disappointment to the Prime Minster, Defence Minister Marise Payne and other senior colleagues.
“I’m being told that there was a difference in price of more than 60 per cent but I don’t accept that on face value, I want to see the figures,” Mr Entsch said today.
“Even if there was a cost variation, when you look at spreading opportunities around the country and particularly in Northern Australia you look at other factors as well as price.
“Now we’ve got a situation where the Pacific Patrol Boats will be built on the Indian Ocean.
“It’s my understanding that Austal’s focus has always been on aluminium vessels so this will be their first steel-hulled build. It’s fair to say that the Customs boats built by Austal left a lot to be desired, given that we’re now seeing a lot of these aluminium vessels undergoing repairs for cracks.”
Mr Entsch said he was also bitterly disappointed that there was no discussion prior to the decision being made with any Queensland members or Senators, including Senator Ian Macdonald, or Josh Frydenberg MP as the Minister for Industry, Resources and Northern Australia or Senator Matthew Canavan as the Minister for Northern Australia.
“It’s clumsy and inappropriate when the local member finds out about such an important decision through a phone call from one of the proponents,” he said.
“The Cairns Solution consortium are of course feeling disheartened, we all know that this contract would have been a game-changer for North Queensland.
“The decision might have been made but I want transparency and some facts, I won’t take this lying down.”
Mr Entsch commended the ongoing advocacy from organisations such as Advance Cairns and the Chamber of Commerce, and the backing of local media who had helped raised awareness and support for The Cairns Solution bid.