Australia 'brings a smile' with Ferry McFerryface, but not everyone gets the joke

SYDNEY (Reuters) - In the grand tradition of Britain’s Boaty McBoatface, Australian authorities are christening one of the ferries crossing Sydney’s world famous harbour Ferry McFerryface, but some union workers aren’t amused.

The New South Wales state government announced the name for one of its six new ferries on Tuesday after a public vote, with Transport Minister Andrew Constance deeming it “one for the kids”.

Ferry McFerryface was actually the second choice in the Australian poll, behind Boaty McBoatface, the name also chosen by the British public in a 2016 vote to name a new polar research vessel.

The British government overturned that vote, instead naming the vessel after leading naturalist David Attenborough, but failed to stem an internet craze that led to temporary copycats like Trainy McTrainface and Firey McFireface.

The name Boaty McBoatface eventually went to a research vessel on board the David Attenborough.

Australian authorities said they planned to comply with the public vote, albeit passing on Boaty as the first choice, given the lack of originality.

“We asked Sydney to name their new ferries, and we have listened,” Constance said in a statement. “Ferry McFerryface will be the harbour’s newest icon, and I hope it brings a smile to the faces of visitors and locals alike.”

But the country’s Maritime Union, whose members staff the ferry fleet, failed to see the funny side.

Paul Garrett, a spokesman for the union, said workers were frustrated by the decision, noting that ferries have traditionally been named after Sydney’s beaches and successful Olympians.

“The transport minister is demonstrating here that he treats public transport as a joke,” Garrett told 2GB radio.

Three of the other five new ferries have already been given more traditional names in honour of luminaries including heart surgeon Victor Chang, ophthalmologist and humanitarian Fred Hollows and obstetrician and gynaecologist Catherine Hamlin.

Reporting by Alana Schetzer. Editing by Jane Wardell and Nick Macfie