Residents may cop 3-5% rate rise over army road maintenance
LIVINGSTONE Shire Mayor Bill Ludwig has challenged politicians to drive Stanage Bay Rd so they understand why he's fuming over the lack of funds for the stretch used mostly by the army.
In a move Cr Ludwig called "another slap in the face”, Assistant Minister for Defence David Fawcett confirmed none of the$1 billion in upgrades would be directed toward army access roads.
Cr Ludwig said he was told the Federal Government had no obligation to contribute to road maintenance through rates, despite being the major user of three council-maintained access roads into training area occupying more than 25 per cent of the shire.
He said Livingstone ratepayers could face 3 per cent to 5 per cent increases once the full extend of Australian Defence Force (ADF) land acquisitions was revealed.
Cr Ludwig said if just 2.16 per cent of the $1 billion upgrade funding was spent on Stanage Bay Rd, it would bring it up to a b-double standard "and we wouldn't be having this argument”.
"The Australian Government needs to let Livingstone ratepayers know just how they intend to address this matter as well as making a genuine commitment to bring all army access roads up to recognised 'fit for purpose' safe standard,” Cr Ludwig said.
Cr Ludwig refuted claims that maintenance agreements were in place.
"ADF has steadfastly refused to sign any maintenance agreement and has not contributed one cent since the Talisman Sabre Exercise two years ago when ADF simply contributed to repairing the damage they had directly caused.
"Frankly it defies belief that no capital investment whatsoever has been provided to bring Shire-funded army access roads up to a 'fit for purpose' safe standard, despite the massive $1 billion expansion plans now underway.
"A commitment to the establishment of long-term defence industries in the region to compensate for the $35 million in direct and indirect losses to the regional economy is also a matter that continues to be swept aside as well as the direct negative economic impacts on communities like Stanage and Marlborough townships.”
Cr Ludwig said ADF did not contribute to the $800,000 annual maintenance expenditure on Stanage Bay Rd and only paid for specific damages after exercises.
Responding to Cr Ludwig's comments, Mr Fawcett said the government had indeed been paying for use of the roads.
"While in Rockhampton earlier this week, I advised Mayor Ludwig, that Defence had paid at least $8.9 million to Livingstone Shire Council since 2010 for the upkeep and maintenance of local road infrastructure, including Stanage Bay Road,” he said.
Cr Ludwig refutes those figures and has provided a breakdown of funds he says ADF have paid since 2013 (see factbox).
Mr Fawcett said the Commonwealth was exempt from paying rates, but had contributed to roads they used.
"The Singapore Armed Forces are not expected to be using Stanage Bay Road to access the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and it would be inappropriate to expect the Singapore Government to fund an upgrade of the road.
"While the Shoalwater Bay Training Area range design is still at an early stage, land acquisition for the expansion area will enable a reorientation of range infrastructure towards the Bruce Highway, taking most military traffic away from council funded roads.
"The Department of Defence will continue to work closely with Livingstone Shire Council to ensure that any impacts from Australian Defence force use is managed appropriately.”
Mr Fawcett said the government would reveal details of the land acquired around Marlborough once negotiations with willing sellers was complete.
Livingstone Shire Council's maintenance bills and Australian Defence Force contribution
Reimbursement for maintenance claimed on 'designated access routes:
- July to December 2018: $33,000 claimed, not yet paid
- January to June 2018: $38,000 claimed, not yet paid
- July to December 2017: $22,000 claimed and paid by ADF
- January to June 2017: $319,000 claimed and paid by ADF
- July to December 2016: $47,000 claimed and paid by ADF
- July 2015 to June 2016: $449,000 claimed and paid by ADF
- July 2014 to June 2015: $211,000 claimed and paid by ADF
- July 2013 to June 2014: $312,000 claimed and paid by ADF
- Total: $1,360,000 (average of $226,66.67 annually over 6 years)
Stanage Bay Rd damage repairs only after specific exercises
- Repairs after Talisman Sabre 2017: $611,000 paid by ADF
- Repairs after Talisman Sabre 2015: $16,000 paid by ADF
- Repairs after Talisman Sabre 2013: $68,000 paid by ADF