Tender concern over marine salvage post-cyclone
TWO months ago Maritime Safety Queensland said the state would soon call for tenders to remove the Tateyama and the Whitsunday Magic from the Whitsundays.
This week it has become clear a limited tender arrangement had ended and local salvage companies had been frozen out of the process.
David Edge, owner of David Edge Marine Contracting, has salvaged vessels in the Whitsundays since 1968 and has worked on the removal and salvage of some 450 vessels.
He has no clue as to why the State Government has not allowed his company to apply for the job.
Mr Edge said a Townsville-based marine salvage group, Pacific Marine Group, quoted $8 million to remove the infamous former Japanese research vessel, the Tateyama Maru, from Gloucester Island in the northern Whitsundays.
"We could have done the job for a quarter of that and a lot quicker too. That's all we have done all our life so we are pretty good at it, it's what we specialise in,” he said.
"The State Government Premier promised all the work would go to the locals.
"We don't mind having to tender against other companies because that is fair but she said we would get some of the work back.
"We were devastated here (after the cyclone) and got on to the Labor Government but they don't want to know about it and are giving all the work to this Townsville company.”
Since Cyclone Debbie hit on March 28, Mr Edge and his team have salvaged 29 of the 80-plus boats strewn across the Whitsundays.
Mr Edge said his company applied to be considered for the removal of the Tateyama Maru and the Whitsunday Magic but was told it was a closed tender.
"A Townsville and a Gladstone company were the only operators allowed to apply for the tender,” he said.
"Under the government law that is crook. You got to open it up. They can then name their price pretty much.
"We didn't even get to put a price in and were trying really hard to get the actual tender forms but they wouldn't let us.
"We have a triple-A rating with Club Marine and Nautilus Marine. My father Bill is 70 and is a ship's officer and has done a lot more salvage work than some of the other companies.”
"They won't give us an explanation as to why we weren't given a chance to tender.”
Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan said the Palaszczuk Labor Government was giving a big "up yours” to Edge's Boatyard.
"(Labor is) completely disregarding their proud history and vast experience in marine salvage operations,” Mr Costigan said.
"That is absolutely insulting to them and small business in the Whitsundays and underlines how Labor has let us down again, particularly in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.”
A spokesman for MSQ said "we adhere to a strict, transparent and accountable government purchasing policy when inviting tenders”.
"This can include consideration of proven experience and equipment in removing and breaking up large vessels,” the MSQ spokesperson said.
"Whitsunday companies have successfully tendered on several occasions for smaller projects and there is no reason to suggest they would not be given the same consideration on any future opportunities.”
Gladstone-based salvage company Mipec was one of the companies that submitted a proposal to remove the Tateyama Maru and the Whitsunday Magic.
Kyle Beale said Mipec quoted about $3 million to remove both wrecks and believed the company's plan to break up the wreck on-site and remove it in pieces would appeal to the State Government and reduce the chance of pollution of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Mipec's tender was not accepted.
Fodico Marine Group was another company to tender for the removal of the Tateyama Maru and the Whitsunday Magic.
A spokesman for MSQ confirmed on September 12 the contract to dispose and remove the Whitsunday Magic and the Tateyama Maru had been awarded to Townsville-based Pacific Marine Group Pty Ltd, however the department refused to disclose how much the salvage would cost the state.
"It is expected the Tatayema Maru will be re-floated and removed to a location for disposal while the Whitsunday Magic will be broken up on site,” the spokesman said.
In late August former owner of the Tateyama Maru Patrick von Stieglitz signed over the stricken 55-metre ship to the State Government.
The Whitsunday Magic has been stuck in the mud off Pigeon Island in Pioneer Bay since breaking her mooring in 2014.