Ludwig set to defend ratepayers on Shoalwater Bay upgrades
LIVINGSTONE mayor Bill Ludwig says ratepayers should no longer be forced to subsidise the Australian Defence Force in its use of the Shoalwater Bay strategic defence facilities now that planned expansions and "massive upgrades” are rapidly advancing.
Cr Ludwig is taking his clear message to Canberra next week in a bid to secure a commitment to critical upgrades to bring Stanage Bay Rd up to a safe and "fit for purpose” standard.
"Livingstone ratepayers have always recognised and supported the national interest in relation to ADF and visiting foreign troops exercising in Shoalwater Bay,” Cr Ludwig said.
"What the Australian Government must in turn recognise is ADF currently occupies almost 25% of our Shire and are making no contribution to rates or the urgently needed upgrade of ratepayer funded SWBTA key access routes like Stanage Bay Road.
"This effectively means every ratepayer in Livingstone has been effectively subsidising ADF's use of SWBTA for more than 50 years at a current estimated cost of over $1 million a year in lost rates revenue alone.
"Giving added weight to our case is the planned expansion of the SWBTA footprint adjacent to Stanage Bay Road as part of Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative and the recent establishment of a new amphibious landing near the Stanage Township.”
Cr Ludwig has made numerous submissions to every relevant Federal minister and to State inquiries but said there was currently no funding allocated for the urgently needed upgrades to Stanage Bay Rd.
"This is despite the massive $1 billion ADF and Singapore are about to spend on upgrades and expansion within SWBTA itself,” he said.
"This is clearly not a fair or acceptable situation by any standard, and every Livingstone ratepayer has a right to be angry.
Up to 30,000 troops are deployed to Shoalwater Bay during joint international exercises with the United States military and a doubling of Singapore troops and Cr Ludwig said the matter could no longer be ignored by the Australian Government.
"Upgrading to 'fit for purpose' safe standards is a mandatory requirement for any major development of this magnitude,” he said.
"That will impact on every ratepayer in our Shire for decades to come.”