DAINTREE FERRY / Council Confuses Community

interim ferry contract daintree


After making a decision that seemed to confuse most, Council has issued a media release seeking to clarify its intentions about the future of the Daintree River crossing.

Key Points:

  • The two-ferry system, as per the tender awarded by the previous Council in December 2019, is going ahead
  • Council will invite tenders to supply an interim ferry until the proposed 36-vehicle electric ferry and the current 27-vehicle ferry are commissioned

The three-two vote decision at the Douglas Shire Council Special Meeting held on Tuesday January 12, 2021 has everyone in the Shire confused.

Is Council, after all this, not going ahead with the agreed two-ferry solution?

Is Council calling for tenders for an entirely new contract?

Is Council proposing to buy and operate a ferry itself?

The Council Decision, Tuesday January 12, 2021


  • Negotiate an extension to Contract 5-05/06 with Sirron Enterprises Pty Ltd, for a five year plus two-year period, for no more than the estimated value as detailed in the report by 15 January 2021.

  • In the event Recommendation 1 cannot be reached by 15 January 2021, release a request for tender to operate the ferry services for the period prior to the two-ferry solution commencing operations, and advise Sirron Enterprises Pty Ltd that they have the option to Tender.

  • In the event Recommendation 1 cannot be reached by 15 January 2021, to commence negotiations to acquire the current 27 car ferry from Sirron Enterprises Pty Ltd as per Clause 14.1 of Contract No. 5-05/06.

  • That the report be deemed a confidential document and be treated as such in accordance with sections 171 and 200 of the Local Government Act 2009 and that the document remains confidential unless Council otherwise decides by resolution.

  • Delegates authority under Section S257 of the Local Government Act 2009 to the Chief Executive Officer to determine and finalise any and all matters associated with this report.

    For: Cr Kerr, Cr Scomazzon, Cr McKeown Against: Cr Noli, Cr Zammataro

Daintree Ferry / Source : Douglas Shire Council

As a confidential Council Meeting, no-one in the room is allowed discuss the proceedings, and it is challenging to shed further light on the Report or any reasoning that lay behind Tuesday’s Council decision.

What was not said in the decision, as recorded in the minutes, is that this is all about filling the gap in time now necessary to enable Sirron  to build a new ferry as per the original contract (suspended by the new Council on April 28, 2020).

Confirming this position, Mayor Kerr said in the Council media release issued the following day, “Any decision made on the interim contract would have no bearing on the new two-ferry contract. Staff are working to finalise the two-ferry contract with Sirron Enterprises Pty Ltd.”

Unable, or unwilling, to reach agreement on a contract extension price with Sirron, Cr Kerr said an interim single-ferry contract is now required to be released to the market via a competitive tender process “to get the best value for ratepayers.”

Had the ferry tender been implemented in accordance with the Council decision in December 2019, Sirron, the successful tenderer, would have had 18 months to build and commission the two ferries.

Even though the ferry contract is no longer suspended, one would assume 18 months will be required for the design, build and commission.

An interim arrangement is now required because Council temporarily suspended contract negotiations as a result of the decision at its meeting on April 28, 2020, authorising staff to explore a bridge option instead of the ferry. Public survey preferences subsequently provided a 66% to 33% vote in favour of the two-ferry service.

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