GKI money juggle leaves sceptical impression
APPARENT miscommunication and accusations of pork-barrelling soiled an official announcement this afternoon that $25 million promised in 2017 for power and water infrastructure on Great Keppel Island would instead be diverted to different construction projects.
Potential GKI developer Altum Property Group said today it had not been properly consulted about Labor's decision to begin work on such features as a jetty, boat ramp, and walking trails on the island.
But speaking on Anzac Parade in Yeppoon this afternoon, Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said she spoke with Altum last Thursday and "they were very pleased", so its claim to be unaware was "a little bit unusual".
"Great Keppel Island is moving," Ms Lauga said, and the announced works would "help make Great Keppel Island great again".
"What it needs is some gentrification … a makeover, if you like."
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said she would meet with Altum this Thursday.
She said the government needed to know Altum had "financial backing" so that it could take over five land leases at GKI.
"Altum has to provide the government with a sure answer," Ms Jones said, insisting that the company show evidence of its secure financial position.
One Nation Keppel candidate Wade Rothery, who watched the Labor ministers speak, afterwards called the announcement an "election smokescreen" that was "absolutely disgusting".
"Another election promise that's going to be broken," he said, and seemed certain based on a phone call this morning that Altum would pull out of the deal.
He said water infrastructure on the island was a prerequisite of further government and private investment, and he added that if he were in the seat of Keppel, he would not have dared host a press conference that he thought was so politically unwise.
About energy and water infrastructure, Ms Jones said she would "continue to work with Altum" because "power and water is still absolutely necessary into the future".
But what mattered now, she said, was "common user infrastructure".
Ms Jones estimated 50 to 100 jobs would be required for the work.
Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll called the works "part of the puzzle" of GKI's complete $1.5 billion redevelopment.