A Special Meeting was held this afternoon Thursday 20 May 2021 addressing the 2021-051 Daintree River Ferry Service Contract. The recommendation was that Douglas Shire Council resolves to enter into the Daintree River Ferry Service Contract with Divers Den Investments Pty Ltd of Cairns. The contract was awarded to the 100% owned New Zealand company.
Cr Abigail Noli spoke first, opposing the motion.
She is appalled that Council would consider passing over the alternate tenderer, a local family with unparalleled knowledge of the river, ferry and dredging, for a non-local tourism business.
Cr Noli pleaded to know “what is happening to our election promises” ?
Further, “what about the Council pledge to ‘Do It In Douglas”?
Cr Noli insisted that she will not in any way, shape or form, support the motion.
Cr Peter McKeown, supported the decision to award the contract to the Cairns company, “based purely on a business case”.
Cr Roy Zammataro, against the motion, referred also the local “Buy Douglas Build Douglas “pledge to “Do It In Douglas”. He describes awarding the contract to the local tenderer as a painless transition to a knowledgeable local team with 100% local employment. To do otherwise, would be to break key election promises.
Cr Michael Kerr, supported the motion to award the contract to operate the 15 year old diesel ferry to “a tourism, customer-focused” Cairns business, with “experience in transport”, as “financially a far better option for the Shire”.
Cr Lisa Scomazzon supported the motion to award the contract outside the Shire, with her reasoning being “value for money for the ratepayers”.
The motion passed 3:2.
Dive and cruise business, Divers Den, is owned by New Zealand tourism and transport company Entrada Travel Group (formerly InterCity Group).
Entrada Travel Group is 100% New Zealand owned, by three family businesses. Shareholders are Tranzit Group, Ritchies Transport and SBL Group.
Divers Den offer Great Barrier Reef snorkel and dive tours out of Cairns and Port Douglas, as well as a PADI accredited dive training centre.
This will be Diver Den’s first foray into the business of operating a river ferry service.