BILL’S CBD STADIUM PLEDGE
OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten will make a funding commitment to build a stadium in Townsville’s CBD at the next federal election.
Visiting Townsville State High School to talk up Labor’s education policies yesterday, Mr Shorten said he was yet to finalise his position but confirmed it would be “a better deal than what has ever been offered before by Liberal or Labor”.
It comes after the LNP’s Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, ruled out the Abbott Government funding the stadium, insisting it was a State Government responsibility.
The State Government has committed $ 100 million towards the project but is calling on the Commonwealth to match its commitment.
“It’s a real shame Mr Abbott’s LNP representative in Townsville finds it too hard to fight for Townsville,” Mr Shorten said. “Of course there’s a role for state governments but there is a role for the Federal Government and a Shorten Labor government is committed not just to southeast Queensland but to making sure we have infrastructure and jobs for Townsville.”
Mr Jones yesterday insisted his Government wouldn’t be making a stadium commitment at the next election.
That is despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott referring the state’s request for funding to deputy Warren Truss to investigate project funding options.
“I’m not contradicting the Prime Minister at all. Funding stadiums in Queensland always has been the province of the State Government,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Jones said his Government would consider funding part of an adjoining convention centre but doubted it would fund all of the project. “I can’t see the Federal Government funding all of anything. Whatever we get has to be driven by council,” he said.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said Mr Jones shouldn’t rule out anything until he saw the State Government’s business case, to be completed later this year.
“I stress to everyone that the Prime Minister is interested to see some of the proposals and I would call on everyone not to rule anything in or out, and to be patient to wait to see how the business case shapes up,” she said.
Townsville Enterprise chief executive Patricia O’Callaghan welcomed Mr Shorten’s comments and said she was still confident the Abbott Government would make a commitment before the election.
BETTER DEAL: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announcing plans to fund a stadium ( left) in Townsville yesterday and ( inset top left) with Labor candidate for Herbert Cathy O’Toole and Townsville State High School students Rj Ballada, 14, and Brycen Patron, 13.