Chance to get Premier’s ear: Will­cox

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ja­cob Wil­son ja­cob.wil­son@ whit­sun­day­

WHIT­SUN­DAY Mayor An­drew Will­cox has as­sured ratepay­ers his trip to In­dia was good value for money.

Cr Will­cox was in­vited with four other may­ors to take part in a trade del­e­ga­tion led by Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk at a cost to Whit­sun­day ratepay­ers of $10,000.

He said the del­e­ga­tion was not only suc­cess­ful in con­vey­ing po­lit­i­cal sup­port for the $21.7 bil­lion Carmichael mine project, but he also took the chance to get the ear of the premier to ad­vance Whit­sun­day in­ter­ests.

“It opened my eyes and gave me an op­por­tu­nity to spend one-on-one time with Premier Palaszczuk and Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral David Ste­wart,” he said.

“It gave me a chance to talk about the po­ten­tial to up­grade the Whit­sun­day Coast Air­port and also the Bowen Green­ing and Grow­ing project.”

He said he got a pos­i­tive re­cep­tion, with the Bowen Green­ing and Grow­ing project on the fund­ing short­list, and he was able to put a pro­posal to the premier for a $15 mil­lion grant to up­grade the air­port.

The “whirl­wind” trip be­gan in Mum­bai and from there the del­e­ga­tion flew to Bhuj and trav­elled by bus to Mun­dra Port, where the Adani fa­cil­ity is based.

The trip was not with­out con­tro­versy, with Whit­sun­day Tourism op­er­a­tor Lind­say Simp­son per­son­ally con­fronting Premier Palaszczuk with her con­cerns about the 69,000 tourism jobs she claimed would be put at risk from the mega-mine project.

Cr Will­cox said a bal­ance could be struck for tourism and re­source sec­tor job cre­ation.

“There is no-one more in­ter­ested in pro­tect­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef than me. I’m very com­mit­ted to our tourism in­dus­try,” he said.

“Another thing I know is that when guests tour the reef for the day, they want to go into a ho­tel with air con­di­tion­ing and lights, which they want 24 hours a day, so you can have a bal­ance there.

“We need to get peo­ple back to work, we have shops clos­ing and need them open­ing, and we need these op­por­tu­ni­ties as well.”

Cr Will­cox said com­mit­ments re­sult­ing from the trip would be re­leased fol­low­ing Adani board ap­proval, ex­pected by the end of this month.

Fi­nal ap­provals for con­struc­tion of the Carmichael mine project are ex­pected to be an­nounced be­tween May and June, with work slated to start in Au­gust.


WORK­ING TO­GETHER: Whit­sun­day Mayor An­drew Will­cox was part of a re­gional Queens­land del­e­ga­tion led by Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk. IN­SET: Gau­tam Adani and Whit­sun­day Mayor An­drew Will­cox.

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