Worries for Livingstone rate payers as Shoalwater expands
EXPANSION plans for Shoalwater Bay are well under way but questions have been raised as to what impacts the land acquisitions will have on Livingstone rate payers.
While the Shoalwater Bay army training area (SWBTA) has the potential to bring positive benefits to the region Livingstone shire Mayor Bill Ludwig says it must not come at a cost to rate payers.
"SWBTA already occupies almost 25% of the Shire's land base with the Federal Government currently paying no rates whatsoever,” Mr Ludwig said.
”The planned expansion will see the total percentage of land occupied for defence purposes increase substantially.”
”This will result in further substantial loss of rates revenue in-turn putting added pressure on our long-term infrastructure funding capability, long-term financial management plans, as well as a substantial loss of capacity in our primary production sector and the resultant economic flow-on impacts.”
Mayor Ludwig said council had already flagged the issues in preliminary discussions with Prime Minister Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne and has had briefings with high ranking Australian Defence Force officials.
"Council has also now commissioned two reports that will analyse the likely long-term impacts both financially as well as the on-going impacts on our road networks and other community infrastructure,” he said.
"These reports will also assist in identifying strategies to mitigate any potential long-term impacts that Council intends to put forward to the Federal Government for consideration in on-going discussions and negotiations.”
Issues identified by council which have been raised include the need for major upgrades of all Shoalwater Bay army training area access routes to make them safer and better fit for purpose with the increase in heavy military transport, troop movements and other training related activities.
”The establishment of regionally based defence support and related service industries within Livingstone Shire, and ensuring local contractors are engaged to generate economic growth and long-term job creation will be a continuing key focus area for Council,” he said.
”While there will be some major issues to work through, overall the SWBTA expansion can be a real win win for both the Livingstone community and our region.
”However this will be dependent on the goodwill that ADF and Federal Government have so far demonstrated in preliminary discussions being carried through into positive action.”