By ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A Sydney Harbor ferry christened Ferry McFerryfacethree months ago has been renamed after a political squabble.
New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said in November that McFerryface came second place in a competition after the now famous choice, Boaty McBoatface.
But Constance said Wednesday that McFerry was only a temporary name to entertain children during the southern summer and the ferry had been permanently renamed after Australian children's author May Gibbs.
"Over the summer period, we decided let's have a bit of fun with the kids with Ferry McFerryface and now I've named the ferry May Gibbs," Constance told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Constance's rationale for rejecting the trendsetting McBoatface in November as the name of the new ferry was that choice had already been taken.
McBoatface was the most popular choice in an online competition in 2016 to name a British polar survey vessel. But that ship was christened Sir David Attenborough in honor of the naturalist and broadcaster and McBoatface became the name of one of its remotely operated submarines.
"Given 'Boaty' was already taken by another vessel, we've gone with the next most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders," Constance said in November.
Nine Network television reported late Tuesday that McFerryface attracted only 182 votes in the online poll and was ineligible under the competition's rules, while at least one unsuccessful candidate attracted more than 2,000 votes.
The state opposition demanded Constance's resignation for "rigging the ballot."
"He flat out lied about the competition, repeatedly saying Ferry McFerryface was the popular choice when he knew it was anything but," opposition lawmaker Jodi McKay said.
Constance denied misleading the public, saying McFerryface came from an initial open call for public nominations in which people could vote for any name without stringent criteria.
Gibbs was one of the names voted on by the public in both public ballots, and attracted 2,082 votes, he said in a statement.
But many argued the joke was stale and that the Sydney ferry should have been named after a prominent Australian.