$15m Budget boost for Whitsunday Airport upgrade
THE Whitsunday Airport upgrade is one step closer with the State Government to set aside $15million for the project in next week's Budget.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt will on Friday announce the Government has backed the Whitsunday Regional Council's plans and will partly-fund the upgrade.
The council will borrow the remaining $25million from the Queensland Treasury Corporation at much lower rates than through a commercial bank.
Mr Pitt said the council's business case for the upgrade had been compelling.
"This $40-million project is essential in order for council to remediate the existing runway surface and upgrade the terminal for current domestic demand," he said.
"The Whitsundays is an internationally-renowned destination and I want to ensure the infrastructure here is of a standard to accommodate that demand so the local industry sees even more tourists visiting this spectacular region.
"I asked Queensland Treasury Corporation to undertake a financial assessment to determine the council's borrowing capacity and the level of funding required from the State Government to make this important local project a reality.
"On that advice, I've signed off on a $15-million allocation for the Whitsundays."
Whitsunday mayor Andrew Willcox welcomed the announcement of the provisional allocation of funds.
"The airport is the single most important piece of economic infrastructure in our region and without this financial support from the Queensland Government, we wouldn't be able to obtain a QTC loan," he said.
"Borrowing the $40million at commercial rates simply isn't feasible for a council of our size given the amount of interest we'd incur.
"But doing nothing isn't an option either, which is why QTC financing is the perfect solution.
"I am determined to drive economic growth in our region by growing tourist visitation numbers, which means we have to maintain our airport to a world-class standard."