Calls grow louder for GKI green light before election
WITH time running out before the State Election is called, the Queensland Government is being urged to speed up its processes to allow development to commence on Great Keppel Island.
Leading the call for action were the aspiring Great Keppel Island resort developers, Altum Property Group, which is strongly backed by Capricorn Coast businesses and the One Nation Party.
Altum's Leigh McCready said the state government only had two weeks left until it entered caretaker mode and Tourism Minister Kate Jones retired to confirm to them that the project had the support it needed to go ahead and agree on how the promised $30 million in funding would be spent.
She said they found it a mystery why a government with an approved project on its doorstep, bursting with potential for the local economy, had not yet commenced.
"If we had received the confirmation we asked for back in April we could have been building on the island already," Ms McCready said.
"The next step for the last five months has been with the state government - to confirm the nature and level of its financial support for the project.
"Until this step is completed satisfactorily, our hands are tied and we cannot progress either the lease transfer or the sale process.
"This point has been made repeatedly to the Queensland Government."
Through consultation with local business leaders, Altum developed an open letter to Ms Jones pushing for the $30 million committed to on-island infrastructure be directed to strategic, long-term infrastructure that enables the island redevelopment to go ahead.
In addition to a jetty, Altum was pushing for the money to be spent on a breakwall and barge ramp, which would provide all-weather, equitable access for everyone while also facilitating construction and logistics.
The open letter was signed by Mario Mercorella (Caltex Rosslyn Bay), Kelly Harris (Hideaway Resort), Max Allen (Freedom FastCats), John Gavel (Rosslyn Bay Fisherman's Market), Gerry Christie (Island Pizza and Caretaker of GKI resort leases), Ross O'Reilly (Beaches Restaurant, O'Reilly's Real Estate, Rosslyn Bay Resort, Rosslyn Bay Wellness Spa, Rosslyn Bay Wellness Retreats & O'Reilly's Organic Farm) and Geoff Mercer (GKI Holiday Village).
One Nation accuses the Queensland Government of stalling the GKI sales process
On the eve of the election campaign, One Nation's candidate for Keppel Wade Rothery has accused Labor of dragging its feet at the expense of 6000 local jobs.
"We've had two terms of broken promises under the current Member for Keppel, and in the crucial days before the writs are issued by the Governor, this Labor Government continue to hold out on transferring the lease over to Altum so they can proceed with the sale," Mr Rothery said.
"Countless state bureaucrats have each been milking a six-figure salary out of this project for at least two years and yet we see no results."
The One Nation candidate called for Ms Jones to ensure the sale went through before she retired from Parliament.
"Kate Jones flew into the region just last month to break the news that Labor was no longer following through with their $30 million commitment to connect power and water to the island, but instead would spend a portion of that money on island infrastructure," he said.
"What the Minister failed to do is give a guarantee on precisely what that money would be spent on.
"If Labor won't connect the power and water, it's important that this new pledge of money is spent on building a break wall which will benefit every operator and resident business on Great Keppel Island
"A break wall will ensure all-weather access for barge operators who ferry stock and materials to business operators on the island, but also ensure the feasibility of any new development."
He said core business operation experts, Deloitte's were expected to again sign off on the feasibility of the redevelopment project if the Queensland Government could guarantee the funds towards a break wall as the priority, along with other infrastructure announced by Kate Jones in August.
"If the current contract falls over between now and the Queensland election, you can kiss any revitalisation and redevelopment project goodbye," he said.
"We've now seen two very capable Australian companies come to the region with good intentions for Great Keppel Island, only to be left millions out of pocket and badly burnt by a government who wrapped them up in red tape."
The sale contract for Great Keppel Island expires on October 30.
Minister responds to requests to speed things up for GKI
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said One Nation, the LNP and numerous companies over the years had promised plenty for Great Keppel Island but delivered nothing.
"The reality is, the State Government are the only ones with the money on the table to deliver infrastructure on Great Keppel Island. We're doing the heavy lifting," Ms Jones said.
"We welcome any private sector company who wants to invest in Great Keppel Island.
"But Great Keppel Island is prime, waterfront real estate. We won't sign a deal with any company unless they have the funds and they can be clear about what they're going to invest."
She said they had been absolutely clear about their commitment to delivering $25 million worth of strategic, long-term infrastructure for Great Keppel Island.
"We're forging ahead with new infrastructure like a boat ramp and upgrades to walking trails to create jobs and support the economic recovery of the tourism industry in Keppel," she said.
The Queensland Government confirmed their GKI funding commitment would cover the construction of a barge slant boat ramp, the rehabilitation of existing walking trails, building new walking trails and water treatment.