9 October 2007

Ship rescue plan sunk
Bianca Carmona

THE campaign to save the HMVS Cerberus has been dealt a major blow after the Commonwealth Government knocked back a request for funding.

The Cerberus, which lies at the breakwater at Black Rock's Half Moon Bay, was put on the National Heritage List in August 2005.
Goldstein Liberal MP Andrew Robb said the $3.25 million application to the National Heritage Investment Initiative was ineligible, as grants were capped at $500,000.
"I am currently pursuing other forms of funding from the Federal Government to ensure the Cerberus is protected as an enduring symbol of Victoria's golden history,'' Mr Robb said. Friends of the Cerberus secretary Peter Tully said the government's response was of extreme concern.
"Only a last-minute pardon in terms of funding will save Cerberus from the most ignoble fate of total collapse and slipping below the waves forever,'' Mr Tully said. Friends of the Cerberus had hoped to raise the $6.5 million it would cost to raise the ship on to a cradle and stabilise the hull.
The State Government had thrown its support behind the project but the Commonwealth's response had left a $2.75 million shortfall.
The fight to save the Cerberus has attracted international interest with letters of support pouring in from abroad, including the USS Missouri Memorial Association, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and the Historic Naval Ships Association.
West Australian Maritime Museum archeologist Mike McCarthy said the international interest was a sign of how historically significant the Cerberus was.
"The main question now is how to preserve it and what to preserve,'' Mr McCarthy said. Goldstein Labor candidate Julia Mason said she had made representations to the relevant shadow ministers about preserving the Cerberus.
"They were very receptive and we are looking into what we can do to ensure this ship is preserved," she said.
Cameron Scott, spokesman for Planning Minister Justin Madden, said:
"Despite the best efforts of the Victorian Government, our appeal to the Howard Government for assistance fell on deaf ears."