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CEO and Managing Director Sealink Travel Group. With the announcement that Sealink have purchased Fraser island and that new vessels may be introduced on our islands, we asked Jeff Ellison to be our Q and A guest:

Q: You have some considerable growth happening at Sealink at the moment?

A: Right across the business we are continually looking for growth organically and commercially and at new routes. It is a constant with us. There are always current or new opportunities.

Q: Sealink have purchased Fraser Island and its resorts and ferry services, this is a major step for you in Queensland?

A: The Fraser Island acquisition is a fantastic opportunity for us. It provides Sealink with the opportunity to connect businesses to many island icons and landscapes. We deliberately focus on islands. We now provide ferry services to 18 islands throughout Australia.

Q: What of your North Stradbroke Island and Southern Moreton Bay Island services, any plans in these areas?

A: Definitely. We are always looking for the next opportunity and these will evolve in time.

Q: Your barge fleet to the SMB Islands is old WW2 style landing craft-style barges that push a lot of water, will you be upgrading or replacing these into the future?

A: The older craft on our routes have had a good and honest life and our thinking in the next five years is that at least one of these will be replaced, if not two. The future will be about faster and more efficient craft and more frequent services. What we want to make sure is that our vessels are the most efficient for our operations and that is currently under review. We have to look at their useful life and when they should be upgraded or replaced. We own 78 vessels and we have plans for adding more. It is an ongoing process.

Q: So what type of vessels are we talking about?

A: We can’t really say at this stage. The planning is currently underway and there are still a lot of issues to be finalised. These include such things as where a new vessel would be built? What type of design? What will be the capacity and speed, and how all this will be achieved?There is also other technical information to be evaluated that is dictated by the routes. Before we can say exactly what we will produce, we will need a bit more clarity. We will certainly keep you informed when we know. It is fair to say we have an older fleet and we are looking at opportunities to replace them over time with more modern, efficient and faster vessels.

Q: Would Sealink be interested in shorter routes to the islands if these were possible?

A: Definitely. These are among some of the future directions that we look at continually. For this to happen there would have to be co-operation from Government and there are many other issues to take into consideration such as locations and access i.e. water depth.

Q: There are some islanders who believe barge trips to the islands should be subsidised for island residents, do you believe Government would be interested in such a subsidy?

A: What we are interested in with all our operations is having our costs covered. Subsidy is a matter for Government. We don’t mind if Government wanted to subsidise barge or ferry services as long as our costs are met.

Q: And what is happening with your passenger ferries?

A: Not too many changes for the passenger ferries. They are going along well. We are under contract to Translink for these services but we are aware of what is happening. We have regular meetings with Translink and any changes to the services have to come from them.

Q: And finally?

A: I would like to say that we are very much committed to the islands. Islands are our business and our focus. That is why we have 78 vessels providing good services to 18 islands.