Hobart's Status as Gateway to Antarctica in Jeopardy Due to Cost of Macquarie Wharf 6 Redevelopment

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Hobart's Status as Gateway to Antarctica in Jeopardy Due to Cost of Macquarie Wharf 6 Redevelopment

The federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, has expressed concerns about the significant financial burden associated with the redevelopment of Macquarie Wharf 6, which is crucial for maintaining Hobart's position as the primary port for the Australian Antarctic Program. In a letter addressed to Premier Jeremy Rockliff, Plibersek highlighted TasPorts' estimated cost of more than $515 million over 30 years as being unreasonably high and lacking proper costings to justify the request. She emphasized the need for a revised approach to ensure the continued presence of the RSV Nuyina and the Australian Antarctic Program in Hobart.

Plibersek's letter also raised issues regarding the logistics of refueling the research ship, noting that a decision by TasPorts to prevent the ship from traveling under the Tasman Bridge has resulted in additional costs of approximately $900,000 annually to taxpayers. The ongoing negotiations between the federal government and TasPorts have reached a standstill, prompting Plibersek to seek intervention from the premier to facilitate long-term arrangements benefiting both parties. The letter emphasized the importance of finding a solution that guarantees Hobart's status as the home port for RSV Nuyina while addressing logistical challenges like refueling options.

In response to these concerns, Tasmanian Labor leader Dean Winter criticized the state government for allegedly jeopardizing over 1,000 jobs by failing to advance the necessary upgrades at Macquarie Wharf in a timely manner. Premier Jeremy Rockliff defended his government's commitment to Tasmania's interests and vowed to stand up to federal pressure to ensure a fair resolution. The involvement of Liberal senator Jonno Duniam added a political dimension to the situation, accusing Minister Plibersek of playing politics and questioning her sincerity in preserving Tasmania's status as the gateway to Antarctica. TasPorts, on the other hand, reaffirmed its dedication to maintaining Hobart as a vital hub for Antarctic exploration and expressed readiness to engage in constructive negotiations to find a mutually beneficial solution.