The Douglas Shire Council put out a tender to run an interim ferry on 9 February, 2021. The tender closed on 9 March, 2021 with the decision expected to be made 23 March, 2021. A month later, and the Douglas community have not heard anything.
To the best of our knowledge, Councillors have not been informed of an interim ferry contract, nor if there is a signed contract for the two-ferry solution, noting this as the preferred option in two public consultations. This solution was planned to be operational on 1 July, 2021 when the current contract expires.
DouglasNews.Network contacted Douglas Shire Council for response to the following questions:
1. Is there an interim ferry contract to ensure the ferry runs after the current contract expires on July 1, 2021?
2. Is the Douglas Shire Council going to compulsorily acquire the existing ferry?
3. If so, what is the cost to ratepayers?
4. Has the new contract been signed for the two-ferry service?
5. What is the new date that the two ferry service will start?
6. Why haven’t all the Councillors been informed?
7. How will the ferry operators manage expected traffic delays now that self-drive tourism has returned to the Daintree?
8. How does Council explain the 18 month time frame from announcement of the successful tender at the end of 2019 with a start date of July 1, 2021, to have nothing in place right now?
Douglas Shire Council’s Senior Media and Communications Officer, Tom Volling, has responded to our concerns, “I have spoken to the relevant officer who advised the contractors will provide two options to Council to ensure the continuation of service. The contractors advised that they will endeavour to provide these options for Council’s consideration by the next Council meeting on 27 April 2021.”
“Once a response is received, Council will be able to make a decision on these options. If Council decides to purchase the ferry, then Council can consider the recent tender submissions for an interim contract.”
“All Councillors have been kept up to date.”
It is not clear why the Council would need to consider the recent tender submissions if they are purchasing the ferry.
DouglasNews.Network approached Councillor Abigail Noli for further comment, “Councillors have not been formally presented the tenders for the interim ferry yet.
“Councillors do not know what options will be presented to them but we believe that it will be presented to us by the end of April. The drawn out consequences that Kerr’s Mayoral Minute has caused, concerns me that on the first of July, Douglas may be left without a way to cross the Daintree River”.
She further stated, “I am also concerned about loses of revenue and how it will effect and compound on rates”.
DouglasNews.Network is interested in the outcome of Council’s Ordinary Meeting on Tuesday April 27, 2021 and will provide further updates for the community at that time.