RAIL TRAIL DE­RAILED

NBRC pulls out fund­ing from group: project up in air

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Matt Har­ris and Philippe Coquerand

NORTH Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil has stepped away from its fi­nan­cial in­volve­ment in the preser­va­tion of a dis­used rail cor­ri­dor be­tween Gayndah and Tara­goola in a twist that could see the tourism project come to a screech­ing halt.

Ac­cord­ing to Mayor Rachel Cham­bers, no fund­ing was ever promised.

“Al­though sup­port­ive of the rail trail project in prin­ci­ple, and of rail trails and the ben­e­fits they of­fer in gen­eral, coun­cil has never sup­ported any fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment to this rail trail project.”

Cr Cham­bers said coun­cil sup­ported the fea­si­bil­ity and scop­ing study of the line be­tween Gayndah and Cal­liope if the study was fully funded by the State Govern­ment.

“Un­for­tu­nately, even though the State Govern­ment has $14 mil­lion dol­lars to con­trib­ute to rail trail projects, coun­cils are still ex­pected to also con­trib­ute 50 per cent of cap­i­tal costs and 100 per cent of fu­ture main­te­nance costs,” she said.

“This is an un­ac­cept­able and quite frankly an un­work­able ar­range­ment.

“The costs of the 270km of line which is be­ing con­sid­ered could reach well into the mil­lions (and mil­lions) of dol­lars.

“To take a large chunk of this bud­get for a project of this na­ture, would not be at all achiev­able, nor palat­able to our rate pay­ers,” Cr Cham­bers said.

Glad­stone coun­cil­lors were in­formed at last Tues­day’s gen­eral coun­cil meet­ing that “North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil will only pro­ceed on a cost-neu­tral ba­sis and won’t be pro­vid­ing any on­go­ing fi­nan­cial or hu­man re­sources for the project.”

As it cur­rently stands, own­er­ship of the rail cor­ri­dor would re­main with the De­part­ment of Transport and Main Roads, how­ever, all re­spon­si­bil­i­ties re­gard­ing main­te­nance, man­age­ment and public li­a­bil­ity would be­come coun­cil’s re­spon­si­bil­ity if it en­tered into a lease.

Glad­stone Cr Kahn Good­luck said dur­ing Tues­day’s meet­ing the lat­est de­vel­op­ment had raised some “red flags” for him, as it dif­fered from the three res­o­lu­tions agreed on through a no­tice of mo­tion at a pre­vi­ous coun­cil meet­ing on March 20.

He was one of many coun­cil­lors con­cerned with NBRC’s per­ceived lack of in­ter­est.

“The fact that we al­ready had North Bur­nett on the jour­ney was a rea­son for my­self, and I’m sure other coun­cil­lors, be­ing in favour for it,” he said.

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