LNP misses train over Mt Isa su­per pit funds

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

IT’S very strange to hear the an­nounce­ment that the LNP will fund a fea­si­bil­ity study into a “su­per pit” in Mount Isa.

Mount Isa Mines ( MIM) has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ex­pan­sion of their op­er­a­tions and build­ing a “su­per pit” for a num­ber of years.

Per­haps the LNP is plan­ning to make a takeover bid for Glen­core? If they are plan­ning to na­tion­alise MIM this would be a big de­par­ture from their usual “free mar­ket” ap­proach, but maybe they feel such an ex­tra­or­di­nary step is needed given their un­pop­u­lar­ity in re­gional Queens­land?

All jokes aside, throw­ing small amounts of money at the chal­lenges fac­ing the North West Min­er­als Prov­ince ( NWMP) is a cheap LNP stunt that comes straight out of the La­bor play­book. Make no mis­take, the NWMP is a key pil­lar of the Townsville econ­omy and with­out in­fra­struc­ture that sup­ports fur­ther de­vel­op­ment the en­tire pros­per­ity of the North is at risk.

This an­nounce­ment by the LNP shows they have very lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of min­ing in this state and the link be­tween the NWMP and the Townsville econ­omy. The big­gest is­sue hold­ing back de­vel­op­ment in the NWMP is a lack of ac­cess to af­ford­able and re­li­able in­fra­struc­ture, par­tic­u­larly en­ergy and rail. This is­sue is a re­sult of ac­tions – or in­ac­tions – by both ma­jor par­ties over a long pe­riod of time.

A per­fect ex­am­ple is the Mount Isa to Townsville rail line. The rail line is an as­set of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance that is heav­ily un­der- utilised be­cause of the way both the LNP and La­bor have man­aged the pric­ing and ac­cess ar­range­ments. Ev­ery ma­jor min­ing com­pany in the NWMP has in­di­cated that de­vel­op­ment is be­ing held back be­cause of the way in­fra­struc­ture is man­aged.

This mis­man­age­ment of the rail line by La­bor and the LNP has re­sulted in a pro­posal for a line to be built be­tween Mount Isa and Ten­nant Creek, which would have dire im­pli­ca­tions for the Townsville econ­omy.

Build­ing in­fra­struc­ture is an ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal is­sue for any gov­ern­ment, but there is no use build­ing it if it doesn’t lead to more value- ad­ding eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity from in­dus­tries like min­ing and min­eral pro­cess­ing.

Both the LNP and La­bor need to stop hid­ing be­hind third par­ties like the Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Au­thor­ity and Queens­land Rail and com­mit to chang­ing the way crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture, like the Townsville to Mount Isa rail line, is reg­u­lated. Cheaper rail and en­ergy prices mean less money for the gov­ern­ment but more de­vel­op­ment in re­gional Queens­land.

ROB­BIE KAT­TER, Mem­ber for Mount Isa.

HEAV­ILY UN­DER- UTILISED: A train op­er­ates on the Mount Isa to Townsville line, which Rob­bie Kat­ter claims has been mis­man­aged.

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