Open letter to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

Dear Bill,

Over recent months, I’ve really enjoyed our informal meetings and policy discussions. The Bill Shorten I met was very different to the untrustworthy, tricky Bill Shorten that the Liberal Party has constantly talked about.

And until yesterday, I stuck up for you when people asked my opinion of you. I told those who asked, that ordinary Australians could make a hand-shake deal with Bill Shorten and trust you to deliver on your promises.

So you can imagine my shock, surprise and bitter disappointment when you broke your promise to me about a commitment to fund a $200k feasibility study, which examines the financial and social prospects for a new Fast Cat service between NW Tasmania and Geelong.

After reading your front-bencher Mr Richard Marles’s public statements, it’s easy to see why you broke your promise to fund the Fast Cat financial Feasibility Study.

Mr Marles’s irrational, ill-informed, ignorant and over-the-top public comments attacking the funding of a fast cat feasibility study, are clearly driven by a deep personal hatred and loathing for Geelong Mayor Darren Lyons.

And have prevented Mr Marles from thinking rationally and in the best interests of his community.

I’m also surprised, given the size of Mr Marles’s political tantrum, that he failed to make any comment when this issue became public months ago. Which causes me to think Mr Marles’s irrational outburst is nothing more than him throwing toys out of the cot because he didn’t get to make the announcement.

Your Labor Candidate for the federal seat of Braddon loves the idea, because she knows as well as I, that over 90% of Tasmanians support at least a feasibility study.

The other fact that condemns Mr Marles’s juvenile behaviour is that he’s never done his homework. He’s not even contacted Incat, the Tasmanian ship builders, for a briefing on their work and technical advances which guarantees that this project is a reality.

Unfortunately, it is clear that you are intimidated by Mr Marles. So you made the decision to break your promise, because in your mind it was easier to face an angry Jacqui Lambie rather than an angry Mr Marles, which is an interesting choice.

As my strong parliamentary and public advocacy continues for this matter and the emotional and political temperature rises, I just want you to know the only reason why I’m fighting so hard for this project - is that I believe the numbers will stack up.

I strongly believe that a feasibility study will show that the economy of both Geelong and NW Tasmania will receive a billion dollar boost – and thousands of new jobs will be created.

Many critics of the establishment of a new Fast Cat Service use the flawed excuse that the old service failed – and therefore so will any future Fast Cat Service.

However, those critics, including Mr Richard Marles, fail to acknowledge that when compared with the old fast cat service, the proposed new ship is 5 times the size, with 10 times the capacity and also enjoys 25 years of technical maritime advancement.

So any claim that the proposed new ship will cause the same amount of sea sickness or discomfort as the old is wild, uninformed and politically motivated scare mongering.

The critics also fail to acknowledge that Tasmanian Fast Cat builder right now have similar but slightly smaller vessels (110M v 130M) operating successfully in the Irish Sea, China and Japan.

A Fast Cat service has the potential to transfer daily an extra 2400 people and 1200 vehicles from the mainland – at greatly reduced rates and costs. This will equate to a massive boost into both communities’ economies and place irresistible downward pressure on the unemployment rate.

I don’t like picking a political fight with a possible PM, however I’m not just fighting to protect my personal reputation and integrity which has now been questioned because of your broken promise.

I’m fighting for 500 workers that will be employed building a new Fast Cat Ship in Hobart.

I’m fighting for jobs for the tens of thousands of unemployed Tasmanians who need hope of securing a job.

I’m fighting for small business owners who will share in the increased prosperity and wealth - which will surely flow into my community, if a new fast Cat Ferry service is established between Geelong and NW Tasmania.

I look forward to your personal apology (not for disrespecting and lying to me, but to the people I represent in Tasmania) and an immediate recommitment of $200k of funds to the Fast Cat Feasibility study.

I’m looking forward to putting this unpleasant but very instructive life lesson behind me – and working with you to make Australia great again.

Of course, in future should you require my assistance and help – there won’t be any more hand-shake deals. We’ll put everything in black and white and have it signed.

Fool me once shame on you… Fool me twice shame on me.