Pressure on to deliver pipeline to GKI
AN ambitious plan to build a pipeline to Great Keppel Island has been likened to a game of Monopoly.
Unfortunately for the Queensland Government which is driving the project, it won’t be that easy.
In light of Livingstone Shire Council last week cementing a position that its responsibility for maintenance of a pipeline would stop at the point where the structure left the mainland, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has lifted the lid on why the Queensland Government has its work cut out tapping into Federal funds to see the major infrastructure project delivered.
At the last State Government election, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga pledged $25 million as an election commitment to supply power and water to GKI.
Now, six months out from the next election, Ms Landry has put the pressure on Ms Lauga to find an “extra $30.7m” needed to see the project come to fruition and her previous election promise fulfilled.
“Unfortunately for the Member for Keppel, we are not playing a game of Monopoly,” Ms Landry said.
“Myself and the Federal Government are not in the business of throwing taxpayer money at projects without undertaking due diligence, especially now during the coronavirus pandemic when any available funds are being used to help Australians in need.”
Ms Landry said after reading the business case that was sent to her, she was concerned about the accuracy of the document because each page was watermarked with “Confidential Draft”.
“I ask the Member for Keppel to clarify if this is a formatting error or if the figures mentioned in the business case are not final?” Ms Landry said.
“The original $25 million for power and water to GKI was an election commitment from the Member for Keppel which included a jetty and amenities block.
“A month later, the Member for Keppel was asking for a commitment from the Federal Government for the project to get power and water to Great Keppel Island.
“No business case was prepared at that point.”
Ms Landry indicated that it could now be even harder to secure Federal funding for the pipeline project, and lobbed the ball squarely back into Ms Lauga’s side of the court.
“Currently, there are no federal funding streams available, however, we can investigate what funding might become available in the future,” Ms Landry said.
“I have previously urged the State Government to prepare an application for a loan through the Independent Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
“However, there is a State Government election coming up soon so it could benefit the Member for Keppel’s purpose to seek the additional $30.7 million from her state colleagues and her government to fulfil her own election commitment.”
Ms Lauga responded by saying she had “one message” for Ms Landry.
“I have one message for Michelle - say less, do more.”
Ms Lauga said the facts “speak for themselves”.
“We are the only side of politics that has committed funding to connect power and water to Great Keppel Island.
“We first applied for Federal Government funding through the Regional Growth Fund on 27 April 2018.
“It was formally denied by the Federal Government on 24 October 2018.
“After she knocked it back, Michelle asked to see a business case.
“We provided a business case. But apparently that’s still not good enough.
“It’s good enough for the State Government, it’s good enough for council, it’s good enough for the tourism industry and it’s good enough for the private sector – why won’t Michelle Landry do the right thing and cough up the dough?”
At last week’s Livingstone Shire Council meeting, Cr Glenda Mather revealed the authority had not seen much detail from the Queensland Government in relation to the pipeline project.
A pipeline could be multi-faceted and deliver power, water and telecommunications infrastructure to GKI.
“The government is obviously doing its due diligence down south and we’re not privy to that,” Cr Mather said.
“There’s a lot of the unknowns at the moment.”
Livingstone last week decided it would write to the Queensland Government outlining its position in relation to maintenance of a pipeline, and also offering its support for development on GKI.
“This council at any stage, has never said we don’t want development on the island,” Cr Mather said.
“We welcome the development - it’s important, it’s crucial to our economic growth and our survival.
“But we are not about to embark on any undertaking (pipeline maintenance) that would cost our ratepayers, without any knowledge of what we’re actually buying into.”