Keppel's LNP candidate slammed after 'false' GKI claim
POLITICIANS have piled on Keppel's LNP candidate Peter Blundell after he made questionable comments with regards to Labor's funding commitment for Great Keppel Island.
The Morning Bulletin quizzed Mr Blundell on Livingstone Shire Council's 'Wish List' where they sought to know the candidate's position on "Critical infrastructure funding for GKI - water, power, waste water treatment plant and tourist/commuter jetty”.
Mr Blundell said he did not support using $25million, plus matched ratepayer funding, for GKI when we have the opportunity to have this built by the private sector.
"Kate Jones was very clear that the funding needed to be matched so it's not a free handout,” Mr Blundell said.
"I think the people of Keppel have seen through the blatant pork barrelling and given their track record, I don't think they can be trusted in the future.”
When asked by The Capricorn Coast Mirror where he got his information about matched funding, Mr Blundell was insistent that the Queensland Treasurer had made the statement but was unwilling to provide specific evidence substantiating this opinion.
Upon reading Mr Blundell's statement, Mayor Bill Ludwig was incensed with the Keppel candidate.
Cr Ludwig said honesty and integrity were key attributes that the community expect from all candidates so it was astounding to see LNP candidate Peter Blundell making deliberately false and misleading claims in relation to the State Government's $25-million commitment to critical infrastructure funding for GKI.
"Securing this level of funding commitment from the State Government is something that Council has been working toward for some time,” Cr Ludwig said.
"We have been one of the most successful councils in Queensland in that regard securing more than $100million in key infrastructure funding over the past three years.
"In regard to the State Government's $25-million GKI funding commitment for power and water infrastructure, as well as passenger jetty and additional amenities, it was made very clear to Mr Blundell at last week's candidates briefing that this commitment required absolutely no financial contribution from Livingstone Shire Council ratepayers.”
The mayor said two stories in both The Morning Bulletin and Mirror newspapers this week also reaffirmed this fact.
"We have asked all candidates to support for this much needed GKI infrastructure that will benefit existing tourist operators and the future redevelopment of the main resort area,” Cr Ludwig said.
"For a candidate who does not wish to 'go to bat' to secure a similar commitment to knowingly make false statements about a genuine commitment from their opposition is 'grubby' politics and reflects poorly on their integrity.
"Regrettably, it also casts a cloud over whether they can be trusted to honestly support the raft of key job creating infrastructure projects that Livingstone has put forward in good faith for a response from all candidates and their respective party.”
Cr Ludwig said situations like this were particularly disappointing given Livingstone Council had worked very closely and productively with all political sides at both a state and federal level, including the LNP when they last held state government.
"Regardless of the result on November 25th, Livingstone Shire Council will remain committed to working with the government of the day in the same constructive manner,” he said.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the $25m was an investment.
She said the State Government wanted to revitalise Great Keppel Island.
Upon learning on Mr Blundell's claims that the state's $25m GKI funding would need to be matched by the local government, she slammed it as "complete and utter nonsense”.
"I lobbied for the $25m, it is not matching funding,” Ms Jones said.
"No one has ever said there was matching funds (required).
"All you have to do is take the word of the Mayor of Livingstone Shire Council who also said it was never considered.”
Ms Jones said it was wrong that he would deliberately mislead the people of the Keppel community who really want to see GKI go ahead and to try to play cheap political points with people's incomes and their futures.
"This is just politics at its worst by the LNP candidate who clearly has no idea what's going on,” she said.
"To create doubt on a complete and utter lie is really treating people in Yeppoon poorly, they deserve better than that.”
Mr Blundell defended his statement with regards to the project requiring matched funding.
"The use or misuse of the word 'matched' is mere semantics; swap it out for co-contribution if need be but the fact remains that this project is not fully costed, approved or planned and ratepayers will pay the difference,” Mr Blundell said.
"I know from government-funded projects in Coffs Harbour, Dundee and from working on water projects for many years that a half attractive jetty will need at least $5million, power and water about $27million and a boat ramp that works in shallow water at least $4.8million - plus sewerage and connections.
"Have Labor committed to $25million or whatever costs arise, and if plans and approvals are in place, why have they waited for an election to get started?
" I know the community are keen to see these plans so they know how it will impact the main beach - Tower abandoned the Jetty because the community said it would ruin the look of Main Beach.”