Coun­cil re­futes rates rise spec­u­la­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - by Ryan Mathe­son ryan. mathe­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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.’’

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