Infrastructure key to creating jobs
WATER and power from the mainland to Great Keppel Island could be on the cards, after a meeting of ministers on the Capricorn Coast last week.
Following the meeting, Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig called for a rethink on how critical infrastructure that would enable and attract major regional tourism investment is delivered.
"It is vital that all sides of politics at both the state and federal level support the urgent need to make direct investments by building enabling infrastructure to support and attract major private sector tourism investment,” Cr Ludwig said.
"Public investment in enabling infrastructure like power, water and transport are the real 'game-changers' when it comes to attracting follow-on private sector investment in areas like tourism.
"Unfortunately this level of funding is well beyond the capabilities of most local governments to fund and, in most cases, beyond the capability of private sector developments to individually fund.
"GKI is a classic example of where a combined investment from the state and federal government to provide power, water and the construction of a dedicated major supply boat ramp facility would transform the region's tourism industry and investment potential.
"The visit this week by Tourism Minister Kate Jones and Federal Opposition Shadow Ministers provided an opportunity to put that case forward and I believe the message has been taken on board.
"A key focus was on discussing how all tiers of government can work together proactively to deliver the enabling infrastructure that will be the key catalyst in creating the environment for renewed private sector investment in growing existing tourism product and establishing new facilities.”
Mayor Bill Ludwig is keen to see $30 million allocated to running water and power to Great Keppel Island as well as building of a commercial boat ramp that would open tourism opportunities, support industry and offer more jobs to the region.
Minister for Tourism Kate Jones said tourism was a key economic driver in the region worth about $1.4 billion to the Central Queensland economy and supporting close to 7000 jobs.
"We need to invest in infrastructure which will encourage private sector traders to invest in tourism in the region,” Ms Jones said.
"Infrastructure talks to connect water and power to GKI open up critical infrastructure opportunities for Great Keppel Island and would be a game changer for the island.
"This would be a huge benefit to not just the island, but to the whole area.
"We are seeing more Australians and more international visitors than ever before.
"More tourism means more jobs so the Labor Government are investing in upgrades to infrastructure specifically aimed at taking advantage of the unique tourism experiences offered in places like Central Queensland.”
Shadow Minister for Northern Australia Jason Clare, Shadow Finance Minister Jim Chalmers and Queensland Senator Murray Watt joined with Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones and Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga met with Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island tourism operators at on the Capricorn Coast yesterday to hear their views on where the money would be best used.
Minister Jason Clare said the meeting was called to seek advice from the community and local council about what the community wants.
"We will be guided by local council to find where the money should be spent.
"We are here to talk to locals and council to ensure the funding is invested to benefit the growth of tourism, industry and jobs for the region.
"Funds will be made available for both local council and the private sector.”
Cr Ludwig said Capricorn Enterprise and locally based GKI tourist operators attended the meeting and there was general agreement that major infrastructure including water, power and a dedicated new boat ramp facility to provide additional transport and supply capability would play a pivotal role in developing both existing and future tourist operations on the island.
"Just as it is vital mining opportunities do not pass us by, it is equally important to ensure the growing multi-million dollar wave of international tourism does not miss our shores,” he said.
"With vision and investment in the critical infrastructure needed to secure and support private sector investment in this region the State and Federal Governments can help ensure we do not miss this opportunity.”