State rates stunt’
Convention centre funding in doubt
TOWNSVILLE’S proposed new entertainment and convention centre is in serious doubt, with the State Government looking increasingly unlikely to fund a $ 48 million share of the $ 150 million project.
Calling a press conference yesterday, Member for Thuringowa Craig Wallace launched a public consultation campaign in his electorate, with a flyer focused more on rising council rates than a possible State Government contribution.
Mr Wallace said he would seek his electorate’s opinion on the issue by distributing 15,000 of the flyers which featured the main heading ‘‘ Do we need higher council rates?’’.
Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell labelled the flyer drop a ‘‘ dodgy’’ exercise, aimed at diverting attention from the state’s lack of commitment.
‘‘ I think the question is loaded and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he got a 100 per cent success rate,’’ Cr Tyrell said.
‘‘ He’s obviously padding the way because he knows the State Government won’t provide one third of the funding.
‘‘ He is using this as a dodgy exercise.
‘‘ They aren’t going to provide funding and they’re looking for some substantiation for not providing it.’’.
Cr Tyrell said ratepayers should not have to bear any cost of the facility’s upgrade, when similar centres i n other cities including Cairns and Brisbane were f ully funded by the state.
In his flyer, Mr Wallace claimed residents could face a $ 100 rate rise if the council was to contribute its share – equal thirds with the state and federal governments.
‘‘ This is a political stunt designed to get the answers he ( Mr Wallace) wants . . . a lot of people don’t want to pay more rates,’’ Cr Tyrell said.
He said Townsville residents were being treated like second class citizens despite claims by the government Townsvill e was Queensland’s second capital.
Mr Wallace said no money had been allocated from the State Government to fund it, but he would battle for it if his Thuringowa residents were happy to pay an additional $ 100 on rates.
‘‘ If residents want to pay, I’ll battle,’’ he said.
‘‘ It is a council issue, otherwise where is the money coming from?
‘‘ Personally I wouldn’t be c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h a n y amount.’’
Mr Wallace questioned the need for an upgrade of the facility.
‘‘ I talk to people in my electorate every day of the week and they have had enough of rate rises and are sick of water rises. They’re doing it tough.’’
Townsville Enterprise general manager Scott Waters attended the launch of Mr Wallace’s survey yesterday, but l at e yesterday, TEL issued a statement slamming the flyer’s content as a diversion.
TEL CEO Trevor Goldstone said it cast doubt on the government’s commitment to developing the northern city as the state’s second capital.
He said it was a way for the government to sidestep its commitment.
‘‘ We simply can’t understand why a minister would bring into question the government’s support for a piece o f i n f r a s t r u c t u r e whi c h would help underpin Townsv i l l e ’ s g r o w t h , ’ ’ M r Goldstone said.
He said a looming state election was always going to spark political games but he was surprised by yesterday’s move by Mr Wallace.
‘‘ What we didn’t expect was an undermining of the project. A project that is identified as a top priority in the Tourism Opportunity Plan which the state sponsored and supported,’’ he said.