Council to chase funds for airport upgrade
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has resolved to approach the new Federal Government about previously promised funding for the airport runway upgrade.
Prior to the federal election campaign, former deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese said Council was successful in achieving $318,905 in funding for shovel-ready projects of significance in round 5 of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF). He subsequently also pledged $10million for the Whitsunday Coast Airport runway extension as part of round 5b.
However, since the election, Council has been advised that the new government will not honour these commitments.
At Tuesday’s ordinary meeting in Proserpine, councillors voted unanimously to take the matter up with the new deputy prime minister Warren Truss.
Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney said Council believed these promises were made prior to the election “and we believe it wasn’t an election promise”
“We want to work with the current government to deliver on the promises of the former government, as it was identified that this funding was in the budget and in forecasts,” she said.
Nonetheless, Federal member for Dawson George Christensen says the airport funding was a Labor election promise with “none of that funding locked in”.
“Despite that fact they tried to dress it up as something that was locked in and quite honestly they were very negligent in doing that because it led people to the false assumption that it was something that was definitely going to happen,” he said.
While Mr Christensen believes there is no funding available at present, he maintains the project is “not simply dead in the water”.
“What this means is we have to wait for a further round of regional development funding and have the Council apply for that,” he said.
“At that stage and with the support of myself and the entire wider region, I think there’s a pretty strong case for securing future funding.”