Quality news, views and analysis of issues that affect and inform us in the Douglas Shire.

Why is Douglas Shire Council tendering for a Daintree Ferry?

interim ferry contract daintree
  • Douglas Shire Council has put out a tender for an interim Daintree River ferry service
  • The interim service is potentially a five year contract
  • Does the Council have a proposed date when the two-ferry service will start operating?
  • Why is the Council trying to acquire the existing ferry if they cannot find a suitable tenderer?
  • Does the Council intend to be the ferry operator?

Douglas Shire Council put out a tender for an interim Daintree River ferry service on February 9, 2021.

The current contract for ferry services commenced on July 1, 2006 and is due to expire on June 30, 2021.

The preliminary minutes of Douglas Shire Council meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 state that the Council was negotiating a five-year plus two-year extension of the existing ferry contract.

The minutes state that if negotiations with the existing contractor “cannot be reached by 15 January 2021, [Council will] release a request for tender to operate the ferry services for the period prior to the two-ferry solution commencing operations…” 

We assume that the negotiations with the existing service provider proved unsuccessful.


The Tender document for the interim ferry raises several questions that need to be answered to clear up confusion over the Daintree River Ferry service.

  • Given that the contract for the two-ferry service has not been announced, does the Council have a proposed date when it will start operating?
  • Why is the Council offering a two-year by two-year by one-year contract for an interim ferry service? Does this mean a potential five-year delay before the two-ferry solution commences operating?
  • Why is the Council going to the time and expense to tender for new interim ferry services instead of extending the existing ferry contract?
  • Is this because they did not offer a viable rate to the current operators? It seems odd that the existing operators would not continue with the ferry until the two-ferry service commences, since they are the successful tenderers for that service. Can we presume that the rate offered was not economically viable for the operators to continue after July 1?
  • What happens to the jobs of the 18 locals when a new contractor is appointed?
  • The tender times seem very short – one month from February 9 to March 9, 2021 with a decision on March 23. Does the Council already have a proposed new operator in mind?
  • Why is the Council trying to acquire the existing ferry if they cannot find a suitable tenderer? Is this because the Council intends to be the ferry operator?

The two-ferry tender was approved by the previous Council after extensive consultation in December 2019. The outcome of this consultation was confirmed by the costly and time-consuming poll that concluded that two thirds of Douglas Shire residents and ratepayers supported the two-ferry solution rather than a bridge.

If the contract had been signed in December 2019 – January 2020, before the caretaker period as per the December 3, 2019 Council resolution, the two-ferry solution would have been operating from July 1 this year  – in six months time.

It seems incomprehensible that Council needs a possible five year delay before commencing the two-ferry service. Do they plan to wait that long before it becomes operational?

This convoluted and confusing exercise has now created uncertainty and angst for many residents, ratepayers and businesses north of the Daintree River.


The relevant minutes of the Douglas Shire Council meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 are copied below so that our readers can try to understand what the Council is doing.


3.2. CONFIDENTIAL – DAINTREE FERRY CONTRACT EXTENSION

Colin Chalmers, Asset Management Officer
Moved Cr Scomazzon, Seconded Cr McKeown :

That Council resolves to:

  • 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


Ferry Tender Document

Opens Tuesday 09/Feb/21

Closes Tuesday 09/Mar/21 2:00 PM

Supplier query cut-off Friday 26/Feb/21 02:00 PM

Expected decision Tuesday 23/Mar/21

https://www.vendorpanel.com.au/PublicTenders.aspx?emcc=54746C469195&mode=all

daintree ferry crossing

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