The cargo ship HMAS Tobruk may be scuttled in the Great Sandy Strait in a few years.
The cargo ship HMAS Tobruk may be scuttled in the Great Sandy Strait in a few years. Contributed

Countdown on for HMAS Tobruk to be sunk between Bay and Bundy

THE Queensland State Government has until August 8 to submit a proposal and throw it's support behind the ex-HMAS Tobruk. 

Securing ex-HMAS Tobruk to be sunk off the coast between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg has the potential to bring millions of dollars to the local economy and create jobs.

Federal Member for Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said

"I hope the Queensland Labor Government throws its support behind this project and in doing so, shows it values businesses and residents in the Wide Bay region," Mr Pitt said.

"We know that this is a competitive process, with four states expressing interest in ex-HMAS Tobruk and Sydney."

Five state governments initially expressed interest in acquiring the ex-HMAS Tobruk and/or Sydney for the purpose of creating dive wrecks.  Western Australia has since withdrawn its interest. 

The four state governments still considering the offer of these ships are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.

A Department of Defence spokesman said the closing date for proposals was extended following consultation with state government representatives. 

Two extensions have already been granted and no further extensions will be considered.

The Department of Defence has provided the state governments with a draft deed of transfer and details of what is required to support each proposal, especially the necessary environmental and work health and safety legislation.

Mr Pitt said once the proposals are submitted, a detailed selection process would take place and a recommendation provided to the Minister for Defence Marise Payne on which states should be allocated ex-HMAS Tobruk and Sydney.

"The proposals need to outline the intended use of the vessel as well as a business plan detailing outcomes and benefits expected.

"The Wide Bay Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group has provided this information to the Queensland State Government and is on stand-by to help further with the proposal," Mr Pitt said.

As with previous disposal of decommissioned Navy vessels, ex-HMAS Tobruk and Sydney will be transferred free of charge, but preparation and funding of the ships for use as dive wrecks will be the responsibility of the receiving state government.

The successful state governments will be responsible for making sure that the dive wrecks meet the necessary environmental, work, health and safety legislation.