Emily Jarvie, The Advocate Newspaper.
IN DOUBT: Financially troubled German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaf is due to deliver two new Spirit of Tasmania vessels to replace the current fleet in 2021.
The state government has been called upon to deliver as promised the two new Spirit of Tasmania vessels due to replace the current fleet in 2021.
The on-time delivery of the two new Spirit of Tasmania vessels is in doubt, with state-owned TT-Line Company in discussions with the German shipyard contracted to build the new Spirits due to industry reports saying the shipyard is in a “difficult financial situation”.
Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaf shipyard secured the $700 million build contract last May after being endorsed by the TT-Line board over other shortlisted international shipyards.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure David O’Byrne said reports the German shipbuilder was in financial trouble are a serious concern and called on the government to commit to delivering the new vessels without delay.
“These vessels represent the single largest purchase in the state’s history,” Mr O’Byrne said.
“Tasmania is in high demand for international and interstate tourists and many Tasmanian families depend on the Spirits for interstate travel.
“The increased capacity of these vessels is vital to ensure the tourism industry can continue to grow.”
“The government committed to deliver the vessels in 2021 and the clock is ticking.”
A government spokesperson said the contract remains in place with FSG as do all the conditions.
“Contingencies are of course being looked by TT-Line if FSG indicate they are unable to fulfill the contract, but to be clear there has been no such advice so it is premature to speculate,” the spokesperson said.
“No money will change hands unless a refund guarantee is in place to protect taxpayer funds.”
TT-Line is in discussion with the two other shipyards that were shortlisted in case of the event FSG can not fulfill the contract, however indicated they wanted to remain working with FSG on the new ferries due to their reputation as one of the best shipbuilders in the world.
Premier Will Hodgman said the government is waiting further advice regarding the long term viability of FSG.
“Contingencies are in place and if required, once this situation is clearer, then we can look for alternate builders,” Mr Hodgman said.
“The appropriate due diligence was undertaken, contracts have been exchanged but not a dollar has been exchanged.
“There will be no disadvantage to the Tasmanian taxpayer.”
TT-Line chairman Michael Grainger said the current fleet of Spirit of Tasmania ferries was going very well and are at full capacity.
“They will comply with the new emission regulations which come into force on the first of January next year.
“The biggest problem that TT-Line has got is with capacity right now.”
“We’ve brought forward the planned build of new ships to accommodate additional passenger carrying capacity,” Mr Hodgman said.
“We’ve got two ships that are currently on Bass Strait that have got at least a decade or so yet, should that be required.”