Fight over funding to boost port
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.