Coun­cil to chase funds for air­port up­grade

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.”

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