Fight over fund­ing to boost port

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DOMANII CAMERON

RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY for fund­ing to make the Port of Townsville’s chan­nel widen­ing project a re­al­ity re­mains a blame game, with both the State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments adamant the other should foot the re­main­ing bill.

It comes af­ter two US Navy ships re­fused to dock at the port due to con­cerns about its nar­row chan­nel.

The State Govern­ment last month com­mit­ted $ 75 mil­lion to the port’s chan­nel widen­ing project and has now called on the Fed­eral Govern­ment to make its own com­mit­ment.

Queens­land’s Ports Min­is­ter Mark Bai­ley said the Fed­eral Govern­ment had a part to play un­der the City Deal.

“The widen­ing of the chan­nel was a key ini­tia­tive un­der the Townsville City Deal be­tween the Queens­land and Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments, and Townsville City Coun­cil,” he said.

“We are call­ing on the Turn­bull Govern­ment to match our … com­mit­ment so we can en­sure this im­por­tant project for the largest com­mer­cial cen­tre in North Queens­land pro­ceeds.”

A Fed­eral De­part­ment of In­fra­struc­ture Re­gional Devel­op­ment spokesman has said the re­main­ing fund­ing – about $ 118 mil­lion – was a mat­ter for the State Govern­ment.

The sen­ti­ment has been echoed by Coali­tion sen­a­tors Ian Macdon­ald and Re­sources Min­is­ter Matt Cana­van who said the project would best fit a con­ces­sional loan from the North­ern Aus­tralian In­fra­struc­ture Fa­cil­ity.

Bur­dekin LNP MP Dale Last said it was “in­con­ceiv­able” that the State Govern­ment had not sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to the NAIF.

“The … port is not a char­ity, it is a busi­ness in its own way that makes a lot of money,” he said. “In­stead of squab­bling about fund­ing, how about we just get the project com­pleted.”

A De­part­ment of De­fence spokes­woman said matters re­gard­ing the size and ship­ping ca­pac­ity of the chan­nel were for the Port of Townsville and the lo­cal coun­cil to con­sider.

“The United States Navy … has not for­mally raised any con­cerns about the in­fra­struc­ture with the De­part­ment of De­fence,” she said.

HAPPY NOTE: Young mu­si­cians Takudzwa Kennedy, Adam Jor­gensen and Kodi Goltl. Pic­ture: FIONA HARDING

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