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54-year-old document could be worth millions to ratepayers

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow with the agreement which gives Rockhamton Regional Council a $17 million stake in Port Alma. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow with the agreement which gives Rockhamton Regional Council a $17 million stake in Port Alma. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

IT's the 54-year-old document that could be worth $17 million to Rockhampton region ratepayers.

The four-page Act of Parliament had been forgotten about for decades but has suddenly become extremely valuable as it represents Rockhampton's claim to a share of Port Alma should it be sold off by the state government.

Between 1960 and 2008 Rockhampton City Council paid an estimated $90,000 a year (a calculation based on CPI increases) to the state coffers to pay off a major wharf upgrade at Port Alma.

Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Margaret Strelow, a long-time board member of the Port of Rockhampton before it merged with the Gladstone Ports Authority, unearthed the "agreement'' from state archives when the asset sales were proposed by the Newman Government.

She advised treasurer Tim Nicholls of the claim when he visited the city last month for a civic leaders community forum as part of the Strong Choices discussion to pay down debt. 

Cr Strelow said the treasurer was surprised to hear of Rockhampton's stake but told her he would keep it "top of mind" should a sale go ahead.

So does Cr Strelow regard council's claim as fully legitimate and compelling?

"Absolutely,'' she said as she produced the council's ace in the state asset-sale pack.

"I am writing a letter to the treasurer to formalise the matter.''

"The agreement was initially about a particular loan but then talks about continuing to underwrite the board.'' 

Council officers have calculated that the net present value of its contribution in today's dollar value was $17,339,000. 

Council signed up for the agreement with the Rockhampton Harbour Board to pay back a loan which was needed to build a new "breast wharf'' at the state-owned port in 1960.

It appears that the state had been reluctant to invest in the wharf at the time so Rockhampton council stepped up and agreed to pay for the works by way of a 40-year loan.

Council's case is that it has paid for a section of the infrastructure so therefore it can claim a share when if it's sold.  

 

Port Alma Payoff  

- October 11, 1969: 2000 people attend Port Alma to celebrate a 10-year expansion. - Cost $4 million : The new wharf complex was described as 'the most important milestones in the history of the Port of Rockhampton'.  

Topics:  port alma




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