Council refutes rates rise speculation
TOWNSVILLE Mayor Les Tyrell has denied rates would rise as a result of a new entertainment and convention centre while launching an attack on what he has described as the use of populist politics by Thuringowa MP Craig Wallace.
Mr Wallace has unveiled a campaign to distribute 15,000 flyers asking the question ‘‘ Do we need higher council rates?’’ Townsville City Council yesterday said the project was covered by its 10-year capital works program, eliminating future budget implications.
Cr Tyrell said the ‘‘ scaremong- ering campaign’’ was aimed at diverting attention from the state government’s lack of commitment and could jeopardise the $ 150 million project’s future. ‘‘ The Member for Thuringowa is undertaking a spurious campaign on rates rises,’’ he said.
‘‘ The project won’t cause a rates rise because the current list of major capital works projects is nearing completion and therefore won’t need to be funded in future budgets.
‘‘ The provision of a new convention centre is included in our 10 year capital works p r o g r a m a n d h a s b e e n budgeted,’’ Cr Tyrell said.
The project remains in serious doubt as the government refuses to make a commitment to fund a $ 48 million share of the $ 150 million project.
He said Mr Wallace’s comments flew in the face of his role in the Townsville Futures Group and the government’s commitment to market Townsville as the State’s second capital.
‘‘ If the plan is more than just talk, we would expect the government to talk about how t hey can make t he centre happen rather than have local members tell us how they can’t do it,’’ he said.
‘‘ Townsville has been missing out on the multi-million dollar conventions industry every year because we don’t have the facilities here.’’
C o r p o r a t e G o v e r n a n c e Committee chairwoman Cr Natalie Marr said the new centre had the potential to p r o v i d e a r a t e r e p r i e v e rather than a rise. ‘‘ If the Government was to fund and run a convention centre, like they do for Brisbane and Cairns, it would in fact save the ratepayer money,’’ she said. ‘‘ Operational costs of the current entertainment centre is a burden to the ratepayer that will continue to increase with its age. With the introduction of a new centre we would be able to close the old one eliminating that burden, leaving the ratepayers far better off.’’