The submarine HMAS Otama was left to rot in Western Port for close to 10 years by the Bracks and Brumby Governments. Immediately after winning government in 2010 I wrote to the new Minister for Environment and Climate Change to ask him to overturn the decisions of the past and give permission for the submarine to come ashore and be granted an actual home location.
The Western Port community was elated when the Minister provided written permission for the Western Port Oberon Association to bring the Otama ashore adjacent to the Western Port Marina in Hastings.
The association had believed that once a home had been secured for the vessel, financiers would provide the funding to bring it ashore. However, after three years of hard work with little success it was clear that after the global financial crisis private funding had become more difficult to obtain.
I therefore sought funding from the Napthine government, and in 2014 I was successful in obtaining a commitment of $1 million to bring the Otama ashore. When Labor won the November 2014 state election the submarine was one of the many worthwhile projects cancelled. Funding was withdrawn. Earlier this year I again wrote to the Minister asking that funding for the Hastings submarine project be recommitted. I later received a response refusing that request.
Today I am again asking the Andrews Government to reconsider its decision not to provide funding to bring the Otama ashore. The Otama is a unique and historic vessel that I am confident will become one of Victoria's biggest tourism attractions.
The opportunity to visit a real Oberon-class submarine and experience what life was like for the crew working inside it would be an enormous drawcard for tens of thousands of visitors a year from across Australia and around the world. The jobs and opportunities generated for local people through this outstanding tourism attraction would be a stepping stone to many other tourism attractions and small businesses across the Western Port area.