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Newport bid for Moreton barge

Posted: 7am 17 Sep 2020

There’s a new proposal on the table as plans to reinstate a barge from the Redcliffe Peninsula to Moreton Island take the next step, with the State Government calling for expressions of interest.

On September 3, the government announced it would start a new expression of interest (EOI) process to expand the search for a barge service to Moreton Island. This was done so it could consider proposals for possible landing sites beyond the Scarborough harbour.

As part of this process, the government will receive a joint proposal from Newport Marina and a national operator to run a 90-minute service from the marina to a dock near Bulwer, seven days a week.

What’s being proposed

Newport Marina owner Joshua Kindred says it would be a once-daily service Monday to Thursday, with two services each day from Friday to Sunday.

Mr Kindred says the marina was not part of the original expression of interest process, but the operator had been, and understands what’s needed to operate this particular service.

“Our commitment to this project is a minimum of two decades. We see this project having a generational impact, which as was originally achieved with the original Peninsula to Moreton Barge,” Mr Kindred explains.

“It’s expected the total cost of the project will exceed $4 million (the amount on offer from the State Government), however we believe the amount we’ll be seeking from the government will be well below what they have budgeted.”

What happens now?

The new EOI process began on September 14 and is expected to run for three weeks. During the next phase, proposals and opportunities will be investigated with interested parties.

State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath says, while the previous EOI process did not find a viable commercial opportunity at the original Scarborough location, there is strong interest to potentially operate it from other sites on the peninsula.

“That’s why I’ve asked the Minister and his department to expand the EOI process to see what opportunities might be available for other sites,” Ms D’Ath says.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says he hopes there will be an update on the process in the next few months.

“It will depend a bit on the content and how much information is put forward, but we’re very keen to do that as quickly as we can,” Mr Bailey says.

Ms D’Ath says the new EOI process would allow for any proposals to operate from the peninsula.

“I’m confident that we will see great proposals coming forward and we’ll hear more about that in the near future. It is I think a fantastic initiative and whether the barge operates from Scarborough or not, we know whatever happens on the Peninsula … it will all feed into each other. It will support our local economy.”

Why Newport?

Mr Kindred says the marina is perfectly positioned to deliver the service, with no dredging required. A barge landing site, similar to a large boat ramp, would be added.

“The Newport Marina is over 10,000sqm privately-owned land, which automatically simplifies some of the operational complexities that were uncovered at previously considered sites,” he says.

“This barge service will make a real difference to SEQ, specifically the Moreton Bay community supporting tourism and jobs.

“The forecast for Moreton Bay population growth is incredible and the desire to holiday locally has never been higher.”

When asked if he thought Newport residents would support the proposal, Mr Kindred says many have previously called for the marina to have a marine industry use and the barge ticks all those boxes.

Support for new EOI

Moreton Bay Region mayor Peter Flannery supported the new EOI process when it was announced earlier this month. He has not been asked to comment on the Newport proposal.

“The EOI is a fantastic idea because it takes in that bigger, broader picture of the peninsula. Who knows, there may be other opportunities out there as well that are better than having a location from here (Scarborough)? We look forward to being part of the process,” Cr Flannery says.

Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism CEO Shane Newcombe says moving forward with a new EOI process is great news for the whole region, not just the Redcliffe peninsula.

“A barge service has the potential to attract more tourists to our part of the world, giving them the opportunity to not only discover Moreton Island and the Redcliffe Peninsula, but the region’s hinterland and bayside gems all the way up the coast,” Mr Newcombe says.

Commerce and Industry Redcliffe Peninsula president Nick Tzimas says residents have been waiting a long time for a barge from the peninsula to Moreton Island and it would be fantastic for the region.

“People have been really missing it. It will be good for tourism and growth and with that comes a much stronger economy. Jobs, jobs, jobs, it means so much for jobs,” Mr Tzimas says.

“Anyone and everyone will benefit from it. It will be a dream come true. People having been waiting for it for a very long time. It will add another dimension for the area as things move ahead.”

Redcliffe Peninsula Chamber of Commerce president Brad Flynn welcomed news the EOI would be open to a barge service from other peninsula sites.

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