CAT D FUND­ING BOOST

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ja­cob Wil­son ja­cob.wil­son@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

AF­TER months of po­lit­i­cal argy-bargy be­tween the State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ments on their Dis­as­ter Re­cov­ery com­mit­ments, the Whit­sun­days has fi­nally se­cured a win.

The Fed­eral gov­ern­ment this week pledged $18.8 mil­lion on top of their ini­tial $29 mil­lion NDRRA fund­ing, bring­ing the joint com­mit­ment to $96 mil­lion.

Shute Har­bour was the big­gest ben­e­fi­ciary from the de­ci­sion with $15.2 mil­lion go­ing to­wards what was once the sec­ond big­gest har­bour in Aus­tralia.

There will also be $1.8 mil­lion for the sea­wall bet­ter­ment com­po­nent of Shute Har­bour.

Whit­sun­day Mayor An­drew Will­cox wel­comed the de­ci­sion and said he hoped the “po­lit­i­cal games” were over.

“What I’m hop­ing for now, is we don’t have any de­lays in this money com­ing through so we can ac­tu­ally start our projects as we are com­ing into an­other storm sea­son now,” he said.

“We have a coun­cil of­fice in Proser­pine which is not hab­it­able which we have to fix and sort out. There is plenty of work to do and we don’t want any games be­ing played when it comes to the projects we put for­ward.”

Fed­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan re­jected the no­tion po­lit­i­cal pres­sure had been a fac­tor.

“We re­quired ba­sic in­for­ma­tion from the (State) Gov­ern­ment about what was dam­aged and we were chas­ing it for five months... that has been pro­vided to us now but it has taken far too long,” he said.

In re­ply, Deputy Pre­mier Jackie Trad sig­nalled the war-of-words was set to con­tinue.

“The Fed­eral gov­ern­ment has been dragged kick­ing and scream­ing to pro­vide ad­di­tional money for the Cat­e­gory D fund­ing,” she said.

“But it’s still less than half of what we asked them when we put to­gether the Cat­e­gory D pack­age with the sup­port of lo­cal Coun­cils.”

One of the projects not cov­ered by the new com­mit­ment was the Whit­sun­day Coast Air­port ap­pli­ca­tion.

Daw­son MP Ge­orge Chris­tensen said this never qual­i­fied for fund­ing.

“The orig­i­nal State Gov­ern­ment re­quest in­cluded a pro­posed Rock­hamp­ton flood levy and new up­grades to the Whit­sun­day Coast Air­port,” Mr Chris­tensen said.

“They sim­ply did not meet the cri­te­ria and should never have been listed in the first place.

“With those two projects re­moved, the fig­ure needed was around $100 mil­lion and that is the out­come we have now achieved.

“The to­tal bill to both (the) state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment for Cy­clone Deb­bie re­cov­ery is likely to be around $1 bil­lion, and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment picks up 75% of the cost – that’s a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in our re­gion by any­one’s stan­dard.”

PHOTO: LIAM KID­STON

BOOST: Shute Har­bour suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant dam­age as a re­sult of Cy­clone Deb­bie.

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