The controversial removal of the Whitsunday Magic in the midst of a heated election campaign could backfire on the Queensland Government.
Edge Salvage owner Dave Edge said his local salvage company was not given an opportunity to bid for the tender from Maritime Safety Queensland.
Mr Edge said he referred MSQ to the Crime and Corruption Commission to investigate whether the tender was a “private deal between mates”.
“They didn’t test the market properly – we have been in the salvage game for 30 years and we have all the equipment to do it efficiently. If worst came to worst and we were unable to do it, we don’t charge,” he said. “The government had nothing to lose, our rates would have been a quarter of the cost for removing the Tateyama Maru and Whitsunday Magic.”
Mr Edge claimed a freedom of information request showed the cost to remove both wrecks was $3 million, but MSQ has not confirmed this.
“Maritime Safety Queensland will not be providing comment on this matter at this stage,” a spokesman said.
MSQ previously defended their processes when the tender was first awarded to Pacific Marine Group on September 12.
“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,” the spokesperson said.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said this flew in the face of the Queensland Government’s Buy Queensland policy.
“What I know is there was a tender process launched and the local business run and owned by the Edge family missed out and that stinks … so much for Labor’s Buy (Queensland) Policy, it has gone up in smoke,” he said.
“Under our policy we would have the opportunity for (local businesses) to come back and price match, well they didn’t even get that they were just cut out of it.”
Labor candidate for Whitsunday, Bronwyn Taha, hit back.
“The tender process started before Buy Queensland policy was introduced,” she said.
“This is a prime example of why Labor’s Buy Queensland policy has been established, to ensure small businesses like David Edge’s salvaging company can bid for local tenders.”
Public opinion on whether the Whitsunday Magic should be removed is divided due to a debate on its tourism appeal.
A unscientific online Whitsunday Times poll showed 135 respondents opposed the removal of Whitsunday Magic while 42 people supported removal and 7 (3%) readers were unsure.
Source: Whitsunday Times.