MAYORS COLUMN: Revitalising GKI imperative
DELIVERING backbone infrastructure including power, water and telecommunications services to Great Keppel Island as a catalyst for tourism and regional economic growth was one of the seven priority projects recently put forward in Canberra by the Central Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils.
The clear message that was given to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was that the Great Keppel Island backbone infrastructure was a strategic and integral part of the long-term plans for driving economic growth here in Central Queensland.
Despite both the Federal and State governments giving the “green light” with approvals for redevelopment in 2013, to date, the significant challenges presented by GKI not having backbone trunk infrastructure connected has been a major impediment to getting the project under way.
To put that into perspective, without the investment in power, water and telecommunications infrastructure, those costs will represent more than 25 per cent of the total operational costs of running a resort, compared to a 7 per cent industry standard for mainland resort operations.
That competitive disadvantage in costs has been a contributing factor to the challenge of attracting a major investor to take on the redevelopment and revitalisation of the island.
At this point in time Queensland investor, Altum, has signed a conditional contract to buy the GKI Resort development, subject to passing Queensland Government due diligence.
But the company has said the enabling backbone infrastructure project is a critical key to their planned investments in taking on the GKI Revitalisation project.
Another major benefit of connecting this critical infrastructure to GKI is that every other island business will be able to connect as well.
This will insure our island business sector will be more competitive and more resilient to both financial pressures and natural disasters.
The return on investment is a “no-brainer”.
A redeveloped Great Keppel Island Resort with power, water and telecommunications will generate up to approximately 1400 jobs.
At the same time it would stimulate both the local and regional economies as well as support an increase in domestic and international tourism throughout the region.
Currently the Queensland Government has stumped up $31.8 million in total for the infrastructure project.
The request that Livingstone and the other CQROC councils are making, with the support of tourism and economic development organisations, tourism operators, local residents and the business community, is for the Federal Government to also contribute $25 million toward the project.
The importance of revitalising GKI is highlighted in strategic tourism documents including the Capricorn Destination Tourism Plan.
It is also identified in the State Infrastructure Plan.
The project also aligns with the Invest Capricorn Coast Region Economic Development Plan and the Capricorn Coast Smart Region Strategy.
With the preliminary design phase now almost complete, a co-investment by the Federal Government would allow the project to get under way in the New Year.
That would give GKI and the Central Queensland tourism industry the major boost that our region now needs.