Terry Dodd will be disappointed if he lucks out in the tender process to run fast ferries to Manly on Sydney Harbour, and understandably so.
That’s because Dodd, a boat company executive and former commercial diver, is on two sides of the bid.
Dodd is part-owner and one of two directors of Global Traders, the parent company of Sydney Fast Ferries.
He is also a director and shareholder of SeaLink Travel Group, the owner of Captain Cook Cruises. Both companies are bidding for the fast ferry contract, although Transport of NSW says all applicants have signed non-collusion agreements.
Manly Fast Ferry and Transit Systems, a company controlled by Neil Espie, are also in the bidding process, according to the NSW Government.
Chaired by Lucy Turnbull, SeaLink floated successfully on the Australian Securities Exchange last October, its stock price running up from $1 a share to $1.88.
Terry Dodd is a non-executive director of SeaLink but also a major shareholder with 6 per cent of the company. His stake of 4.39 million shares, is worth $8.3 million.
A spokesperson for Transport for NSW said the government was aware that “a non-executive director of one proponent is also the managing director of another proponent”.
“The tender assessment includes a review of the background of the companies that have tendered for the contract and the process is overseen by two independent probity officers.
“This information was provided in the tender responses. All applicants have also signed non-collusion undertakings.”
Perhaps of greater concern to commuters than potential conflicts of interest in the tender process is that the Manly to Circular Quay route already has two operators competing on it. It is widely considered to be an excellent service.
Manly Fast Ferries began operating the fast ferry service to the city in February 2009 after winning the contract to operate it for 14 months following the withdrawal from the run of the government-owned jetcats in December 2008.
When the State Government sought tenderers to operate the fast ferry service for five years from April 2010, the contract was won by Sydney Fast Ferries.
Manly Fast Ferries obtained permission to operate an alternative fast ferry service.
Terry Dodd was unavailable to respond to questions about the tender process which closed in September, a decision on the winner had been expected last month.
Until recently, Sydney Fast Ferries had been a client of Liberal powerbroker Michael Photios’s lobbying firm Premier State, as a former shadow minister for transport and tourism, his specialty had been transport and tourism.
This is hardly the first instance of such a potential conflict.
Construction giant Leighton Holdings is a champion for the cause, having had its divisions Thiess and Leighton Contractors in the same tender for large infrastructure projects.