MAYOR’S ADANI MEETING
Chance to get Premier’s ear: Willcox
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.