Devil Cat Feasibility Study gains support

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has called on PM Tony Abbott to support federal funding for a feasibility study, which examines the establishment of a new Bass Strait, Fast Cat service between Geelong and Burnie.

“Yesterday I met with the Geelong Mayor Darren Lyons and Tasmanian Ship Building representative Richard Lowrie at the Geelong Council Chamber to discuss support for a Shipping and Tourism Feasibility study. Darren is a positive person and a great Mayor who is working very hard for his community. The people of Geelong and N/W Tassie have a lot in common. We face the same social and economic problems.

So next week in parliament for both communities, I will lobby the federal government to fund a feasibility study that examines the economic opportunities which will be created by a new Fast Cat service between North-West Tasmania and Geelong.” said Senator Lambie.

“It is clear after a group discussion yesterday, that a Fast Cat Ferry Service between Geelong and Burnie (which also services King Island) is a strong possibility and would deliver robust economic growth and jobs. A feasibility study would allow us to accurately crunch the numbers. It would give us a good idea of how much both Geelong and Tasmania would benefit economically and socially from a new Fast Cat Service.

I want to know how many extra jobs this new sea link between Tasmania and the mainland would create in both Geelong and Burnie; I also want to know, if we can significantly reduce the Bass Strait travel costs for families, especially those with a car and a caravan.” said Senator Lambie.

“The new Devil Cat should be able to slash the current car and caravan charges of $1500 to $2000 - and also cut out the 12-month wait that some grey nomads are forced to put up with when they try and visit, or return to Tasmania.

A feasibility study would also address the issue of seas sickness for future Fast Cat passengers. Tank testing and vessel modelling at Tasmania’s Maritime Colleges’ campus will help design and build a new Fast Cat Ferry that is less likely to cause sea sickness for passengers.” said Senator Lambie.

“Of course the Devil Cat (name put forward by Mayor Darren) proposed for the new Bass Strait passenger, car and caravan service is almost 10 times larger in weight and displacement than a smaller vessel that operated in the past – therefore a much different proposition when it comes to passenger comfort.

I’m very pleased everyone present agreed that we take the first step and strongly supported the proposition our federal government invest $200K into a feasibility study.

The Devil Cat will cut the crossing times of Bass Strait by more than 50%. A return journey could be 12 hours as opposed to the current 24 hrs. Richard Lowrie told the meeting that the new Devil Cat service could see an extra 3000 passengers a day travel between Geelong and Burnie.” said Senator Lambie.

I want to see a Fast Cat built in Tasmania, by 500 local workers, transporting passengers safely, quickly and cheaply across Bass Strait. It’s a crazy situation when Incat, Tasmania’s own ship builder, who has a proven track record and has ships operating around the world by the US military and many different countries – hasn’t been given an opportunity to build a Fast Cat that will service Bass Strait.

The Tasmanian state government will have to spend in the next 5 years, at least $150M to $200M to replace one of the existing Bass Strait ships. It’s time we got serious about supporting Tasmania’s own world-class ship building industry and workers.” said Senator Lambie.

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