Tasmania’s best interests must come before party politics in Fast Cat debate: Lambie.

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has called on all members of the state’s political parties and tourism boards to put aside political party loyalties - and to put Tasmania’s best interests first - in regard to the renewed efforts to establish a Fast Cat service between Tasmania and the mainland.

“It’s now time for all Tasmanian’s to unite and support an investment in a new financial feasibility study, that thoroughly explores the costs and benefits of the establishment of a Fast Cat passenger and vehicle service between Tasmania and the mainland.

This study must have broad terms of reference and take into account short, medium and long-term Bass Strait transport requirements.

This project has the potential to dramatically grow the numbers of tourists and visitors from the mainland to Tasmania, while also dramatically increasing business and employment opportunities between North, North West Tasmania, King Island and Geelong.

Negative people like Mr Luke Martin, the CEO of our Tourism Industry Council who launched an extraordinary personal and political attack, after finding out that I’d entered into talks with the Mayor of Geelong Mr Darryn Lyons about a Fast Cat Service - have behaved in a reckless and ignorant manner. They certainly haven’t put Tasmania’s best interests first.

As I pointed out to the Tasmanian Premier and Tourism Minister in my recent letter, (see attached) Mr Luke Martin is the least qualified person to express views about the financial viability of projects, and hasn’t even taken the time to contact either myself, or my office before launching his personal and political attack.” said Senator Lambie

“Today, a rattled Mr Martin contacted my office not with an apology, or a genuine offer to work together for the benefit of all Tasmanian tourism operators, but with a half-smart legal argument which tried to make the point that my letter to the Premier was inaccurate.

Mr Martin alleges that my description of the Tourism Industry Council is inaccurate, when I say it’s “a state-funded tourism body”, but then goes on to admit in the call to my office, that his organisation receives about $50,000 p/a from the taxpayers of Tasmania.” said Senator Lambie.

“And the really sad thing is, that while this top tourism official refuses to stop playing these petty political games and tries to dig his way out of a hole of his own creation – Tasmanian families with a car and a caravan will be charged up to $1500 for a one-way crossing of Bass Strait - and mainland Grey Nomads are forced to book 12 months in advance for a Tasmanian holiday!

I’m happy to work with anyone who’s there for Tasmania’s best interests, not with small-minded bureaucrats trying to make a public reputation by taking cheap political shots. Tasmania’s best interests will be best served by people in public leadership roles who have vision and a have a go attitude.

It will be interesting to find out if the board members of the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania condone and support the recent public comments of their CEO - or do they support my proposal for a new Fast Cat financial feasibility study?” said Senator Lambie.

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