Livingstone mayor ramps up calls for GKI federal funding
DESPERATE to see construction work in his bushfire ravaged shire, Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig has again called on the Federal Government to contribute to the revitalisation of Great Keppel Island and unlock the project's promised 1500 jobs.
In December, a major deputation to Canberra led by Cr Ludwig as chairman of the Central Queensland Organisation of Councils (CQROC), listed the supply of enabling truck infrastructure to Great Keppel Island as one of seven key infrastructure projects absolutely critical to Central Queensland's future.
Cr Ludwig said that given the importance of the GKI revitalisation going ahead to both the national and state tourism sectors, it had been surprising and disappointing the Federal Government had not committed to bipartisan support for this project.
"Hopefully the Federal Government's position will be reviewed moving forward, especially given the economic boost that the construction phase of the development will give our region during the recovery phase for the recent bushfire disaster," he said.
"Looking forward, it will be important for the State Government to also consider to go it alone, if necessary, to ensure the power, water and high-speed internet infrastructure are in place regardless.
"With the enabling trunk infrastructure in place, the goal of attracting the substantial private sector investment needed to fully realise GKI's incredible potential will certainly be made easier."
Cr Ludwig said the long-term dividends from this strategic infrastructure investment would be multifaceted and range from economic uplift to long-term environmental benefits.
"These benefits will include preservation of GKI's aquifer though use of mainland water and the reuse of treated water that will be available for landscaping uses," Cr Ludwig said.
"The availability of high-speed internet on GKI will also deliver a competitive advantage in attracting the national and international business conference market.
"The State Government to their credit has, so far, committed $31.8m toward the project, and the design, scoping and securing the necessary Great Barrier Reef Marine Park approvals are also nearing completion.
"All our region needs now is for the work to commence so we can move a step closer to realising the thousands of jobs a rejuvenated GKI and a thriving tourism industry will generate for our region."
In the past, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and CQ Senator Matt Canavan have stood on GKI's beach holding signs calling for the 1500 jobs which would come from reviving the fortunes of the former tourism Mecca but their government's funding has been absent, despite multiple calls from the Queensland Government and LSC for bipartisan support.
Last year LNP politicians expressed scepticism with State Labor's as-yet-unreleased costings for the project, saying a convincing business plan would be required before they would consider moving forward with the project.
"The Member for Keppel (Brittany Lauga) and Mayor Ludwig have kept the proposed costings of the Great Keppel Island revitalisation tightly under wraps, and I look forward to one day receiving them," Ms Landry said.
"I will always be in favour of projects in Capricornia that create jobs. However, the Coalition Government and I are not in the business of promising taxpayer funds to projects without doing our due diligence first.
"If the Member for Keppel and Mayor Ludwig would like to meet with me regarding the GKI revitalisation with the associated costings, I'd be more than happy to meet with them and further consider their proposal."
She also invited Cr Ludwig to apply for funding regarding GKI through an appropriate Federal Government program when available like the Regional Growth Fund.
A Queensland Government spokesperson said they only needed $25 million from the Federal Government to get the job done. Late yesterday Ms Lauga confirmed her government would release the business case "shortly".
Due to time constraints and ongoing due diligence process for the transfer of the GKI resort development's leases, it is unclear whether the Queensland Government would opt to entirely self-fund the project or enter into the time consuming federal grant application process.