GKI is far from lagging, tourism spend shows
CLAIMS by ALP candidate for Capricornia, Russell Robertson that Central Queensland is lagging behind are not backed up by the latest tourism figures, released this week, which show a $20million increase in international visitor spending in the Capricorn Region since last year.
Mr Robertson says Central Queensland is lagging behind the tropical north because the Federal Government refuses to fund infrastructure on Great Keppel Island.
"Central Queensland has world class tourism operators and a beautiful coastline,” he said.
"But while we saw huge growth in tourism expenditure and visitor numbers in Tropical North Queensland, Central Queensland lagged behind.”
Mr Robertson is putting GKI at the fore of his campaign to challenge sitting MP Michelle Landry for the seat of Capricornia.
He says if Ms Landry won't back GKI then he will go over her head and has called on Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Shadow Minister for Regional Services Stephen Jones to visit the island with him.
"Everybody on the Capricorn Coast knows the value of infrastructure investment for Great Keppel Island,” he said.
"It is expected that upgrading GKI's infrastructure will attract 860 000 people per year to the island, boosting the local economy by over $83 million a year.
"That's good for local tourism, local businesses and local jobs.”
In the year ending September 2018, Queensland's share of the international tourism spend in Australia grew by 11.5 per cent, more than all other states and double the Australian rate.
Record numbers of international visitors, 2,762,000 spent $5.9 billion in Queensland.
That spend jumped from $23million in 2017 to $43million in 2018.
Tourism Minister, Kate Jones said 502,000 Chinese tourists spent a record $1.4 billion in Queensland in the year ending September 2018, a more than 33 per cent growth in expenditure year-on-year.
As Great Keppel Island waits in the wings of the Queensland tourism main stage, Mr Robertson said Ms Landry and the LNP had turned their backs on the island by not approving a $25 funding application made by the State Government last year to the Regional Growth Fund for infrastructure to connect power, water and sewage to the island.
Ms Landry rebuked the "faux outrage” regarding the "failed bid by the Queensland Government to garner federal funding for one of their key election commitments”.
She said it showed arrogance and immaturity.
"To this very day no costed plan has been presented to me,” she said.
"The Regional Growth Fund had over 300 applications for funding. After a competitive process, run by an independent panel, 16 projects were funded across the country.
"The ALP candidate needs to come clean with Central Queenslanders, do they really think the funding for the South Rockhampton Flood Levee should have been given to a project that has not had its due diligence done?
"For Capricornia to have secured funding for one of just 16 nationwide projects is a massive coup for the region.
"It shows how unprepared for public office the candidate is to suggest we would have got several.”
"They are doing the business case and that's great so we can see what the costings are, but I am really pushing for the Keppel Bay Sailing Club.
"To have a 1000-seat conference centre would be fantastic and I'm pushing hard to get $20million for that.”
Mr Robertson said Ms Landry needed to clarify her position to the people of the Capricorn Coast saying she either wasn't paying attention to the issues affecting them or "she just doesn't care”.
"We know the Federal Government received correspondence on tourism infrastructure for Great Keppel Island from the State Government way back in April last year,” he said.
"I'm challenging the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Stephen Jones, to come up to Great Keppel Island and see what it means for our region.”