CITY LEADERS GIVE THE NOD
TWO new schools, more funding for regional councils and more investment in the Port of Townsville were welcomed by the city’s leaders yesterday – but more money is needed for the region’s key infrastructure projects.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the State Budget’s doubling of the funding for transport infrastructure grants would ease the burden on ratepayers. Cr Hill also welcomed the creation of a $ 200 million regional infrastructure grant for councils in rural and regional Queensland, saying she would immediately look to secure funding to develop the Townsville State Development Area at Stuart.
“There’s a couple of projects we’re looking at with staff to see if we can secure some of that funding,” she said.
“The State Government has also provided funding for two new schools in the city’s northern corridor, and that’s been something that has been called for for quite some time and it’s good to see that is being delivered.”
Townsville Chamber of Commerce president Stephen Motti said he welcomed the formation of a Business Development Fund to stimulate emerging industries, but the test would be whether it was evenly spread to the regions.
“We know all levels of government are genuinely looking at regionalisation and we would like to ensure funds are distributed equally,” he said.
Townsville Enterprise chief executive Patricia O’Callaghan said the $ 19 million allocated for berth 4 at the Port of Townsville would improve general cargo growth and cement the port’s reputation as the largest multi- cargo port in Northern Australia.
“It is positive to see $ 13.7 million committed to a renewable energy power station on Palm Island,” she said.
“This region pays the second highest electricity costs in the country, second only to the Pilbara. We would hope to see policy commitments from the Government to address high energy costs.’’
Ms O’Callaghan also welcomed the Government’s election commitment of $ 100 million for the CBD stadium but said the Government needed to consider redirecting any funding committed to 1300SMILES Stadium to the project.
“We would welcome any additional State Government funding for this project which will be the catalytic project in transforming this city,” she said.
Regional economist Colin Dwyer said the Townsville region received capital expenditure commensurate with its population and economic output.
“Our region’s capital expenditure program was about 5.2 per cent. Mount Isa got around 7 per cent and Cairns gets less than 4 per cent,” Mr Dwyer said.
Mayor Jenny Hill.