THE Tasmanian Parliament has officially moved to establish an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding cost overruns and late delivery of the two new Spirit of Tasmania ferries.

Labor opposition leader Dean Winter announced over the weekend he had met with the Public Accounts Committee chair, Upper House Independent Ruth Forrest “to discuss my concerns around the TT-Line’s decision to alter its contract with RMC, pay $80 million of Tasmanian taxpayer money and its potential breach of caretaker conventions.  

“Following that meeting I wrote to her with proposed terms of reference for a Public Accounts Committee inquiry and I am pleased the Committee has agreed to undertake that work.

“We look forward to finally getting some answers to the questions being asked by Tasmanian people and businesses affected by the delays, including:

  • How much will the ships actually cost the Tasmanian taxpayer?
  • When will Spirits IV and V be in service?
  • What is going on with the Devonport Port upgrades, which are critical to the ships’ operation but have had the tender documents torn up?
  • Did TT-Line meet its caretaker convention obligations?
  • What has happened to the promises of $100 million of local content, which includes a significant refuelling commitment?

“The Spirits replacement is the largest and most significant infrastructure project in the state’s history and Tasmanians deserve full transparency around the project,” Mr Winter said.

It was revealed in the Tasmanian Parliament last month [15 May] that Spirit of Tasmania IV and V, being built by Finland’s Rauma Marine Constructions, will now cost an extra $81.6 million (50 million euros) over the originally agreed $850 million.

Additionally, the Finnish Government had been obliged to match that amount and offer financial underwriting of FMC, which was experiencing severe difficulties in completing the two vessels due to several factors including material price increases, material availability and labour shortages. TT Line had simultaneously agreed to drop any late-delivery penalties for the ferries.

Delivery of the first vessel to Tasmania will now not be before the third quarter of this year while the second has slipped to 1Q 2025. Both ships are expected to undergo around three months’ of local fit-out work before entering service. Spirit of Tasmania IV left the builders’ fitting-out berth for the first time last week to begin sea trials.