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Minister for Tourism, 19 October 2006
Victoria Gets That Sinking Feeling, Selected For Exciting New Dive Site
by John Pandazopoulos, Minister for Tourism
Thursday, 19 October 2006 — Victoria has won an interstate bid to secure the former Royal Australian Navy Guided Missile Frigate, ex-HMAS Canberra, as a new artificial dive attraction Tourism Minister, John Pandazopoulos, said today.
A proposed site has been found at The Ships Graveyard, three kilometres south of Barwon Heads, on Victoria’s picturesque Bellarine Peninsula. Extensive environmental and navigational survey work has been undertaken to select the site.
“It is full steam ahead for ex-HMAS Canberra, Australia’s newest dive site, which will arrive at its new home next month and be sunk in April 2007,” Mr Pandazopoulos said.
“The Bracks Government has been working for several months to secure the vessel and successfully outbid New South Wales.”
Mr Pandazopoulos said the proposal to acquire the ex-HMAS Canberra was a great coup and would position Victoria and the Bellarine Peninsula as a nationally significant temperate dive destination.
The Bracks Government has allocated $500,000 and the Federal Government has also contributed funding toward the costs of sinking. The ex-HMAS Canberra is a large frigate 138 meters in length and also requires complete stripping and decontamination before dives can occur,” he said.
Member for Bellarine, Lisa Neville, said this is Victoria’s first major dive site in many years and added to the State’s broad tourism appeal.
“This announcement will be warmly welcomed by the Victorian recreational diving industry and Geelong Otway Tourism and is the result of strong lobbying by our local community and the Victorian Government,” she said.
“Studies by Tourism Victoria estimate the direct economic benefit of the dive site, through spending by new visitors, to be around $1.3 million per annum which will see new local jobs created.
“Market research indicates that the new dive attraction could significantly boost local, interstate and international dive days in Victoria which is great for tourism.”
Mr Pandazopoulos said Victoria was ranked second in the recent national Brand Health Survey for interesting and diverse regional experiences within 1.5 hours from the city and that this new tourism facility would add to the range of experiences on offer.
In 2006-07, the Bracks Government allocated more than $9.3 million for regional tourism, which is more than triple the $2.5 million for 1999-2000 when the previous Government was in office.