Pipe­line case study ‘ money down drain’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CLARE ARM­STRONG

HER­BERT MP Cathy O’Toole says ten­der­ing a busi­ness case for the sec­ond stage of Townsville’s wa­ter pipe­line is a “lu­di­crous” waste of funds.

Ms O’Toole has slammed moves by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to next week open ten­ders for a study on Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipe­line Du­pli­ca­tion project, with a view to award­ing a com­pany “early next year”.

“I don’t think the Gov­ern­ment has a clue about ur­gency,” she said. “If ( the study) takes too long the project will cost an­other $ 55 mil­lion be­cause Stage 2 will not be done con­cur­rently with Stage 1.”

Ms O’Toole said the $ 5 mil­lion al­lo­cated to the busi­ness case was a “com­plete waste” of money as the Gov­ern­ment had al­ready promised to fund Stage 2 re­gard­less of its out­come.

“That is com­pletely and ut­terly out­ra­geous that the Gov­ern­ment should say we want you to jump through this hoop, pay $ 5 mil­lion of tax­payer money but then it doesn’t mat­ter what hoop you jump though be­cause we will fund it any­way,” she said.

Ms O’Toole said Townsville City Coun­cil should have been asked to do the study as they al­ready had all the in­for­ma­tion and ex­per­tise from their on­go­ing work on Stage 1.

Mayor Jenny Hill said the coun­cil was “best placed” to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion for the busi­ness case.

“Coun­cil could have pro­vided the in­for­ma­tion within a few weeks – sav­ing sig­nif­i­cant amounts of time and money,” Cr Hill said. “There is a very small win­dow to en­sure the en­gi­neer­ing and pro­cure­ment pro­cesses are done in the cor­rect se­quence to en­sure ( the $ 55 mil­lion in) sav­ings are achieved. How­ever, we do recog­nise and ap­pre­ci­ate Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son’s com­mit­ment to fully fund Stage 2 of the pipe­line.”

But LNP can­di­date for Her­bert Phillip Thomp­son said he did not be­lieve the coun­cil should do the study.

“I think the coun­cil is ex­tremely bi­ased to one side of pol­i­tics, that was ev­i­denced by the Mayor com­ing out and say­ing La­bor was the only party that could de­liver this with­out a cost blowout, which is com­pletely false,” he said.

“I don’t think the coun­cil should be gifted the ten­der. They can ap­ply through the process like every­one else.”

Mr Thomp­son urged lo­cal con­trac­tors to ten­der for the study, which he de­scribed as a “project plan” to de­ter­mine the tech­ni­cal and mon­e­tary re­quire­ments of Stage 2.

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