'Can't match': Gladstone rules out $2m tourism ship bid

GLADSTONE Regional Council has ruled out floating a bid to make the region's waters the new home for the former HMAS Tobruk.

Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett said council explored the option of lodging a joint application with Livingstone Shire Council to have Tobruk sunk offshore at a mutually beneficial location.

"However, the councils could not match the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast councils' joint bid of $2 million to have the vessel sunk within their regional waters and so the matter was not pursued further," Cr Burnett said.


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RULED OUT: Council won't seek to have HMAS Tobruk sunk in the Gladstone region.
RULED OUT: Council won't seek to have HMAS Tobruk sunk in the Gladstone region.

The Queensland Government has called for expressions of interest from local councils to decide the most suitable location for the Royal Australian Navy's Tobruk after sending a proposal to the Department of Defence to acquire the vessel to establish an artificial reef and dive wreck.

Cr Burnett said council was confident the wreck would have been a tourist attraction for Gladstone had it been able to obtain the approval to have the vessel sunk within the region's waters.

"Council is always mindful of tourism opportunities for the Gladstone region and will continue to support the tourism industry and its promotion and marketing organisations in order to help maintain the steady growth the industry is already experiencing within the region," he said.

One of the region's tour operators, Lorenzo Benedetto, said Agnes Water would be an ideal location for Tobruk and an opportunity to bring more jobs and growth to the community.

"Agnes itself is a tourism hub - we have plenty of accommodation and the weather is nice 300 days of the year," the owner of Gnarly Tours said.

Mayor Matt Burnett.
Mayor Matt Burnett. Paul Braven GLA050416COUNCIL

Mr Benedetto said the dive wreck would be "the gift that keeps on giving" for the Central Queensland tourist town. "If we sank a ship here it would bring people here and there's a local diving community which would love it," he said.

"International tourists and national tourists would come to the area and go diving."

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said several regions had already flagged an interest in the vessel.

"The great interest we have already received from councils shows how important the ex-HMAS Tobruk will be for attracting tourists to regional Queensland," Ms Jones said.

The expressions of interest process is set to be finalised by the end of September.

By this time the Queensland Government expects to know the outcome of its proposal to acquire the ship.