Island battle: Can governments reach agreement over GKI?
GETTING on with the job of revitalising Great Keppel Island will become a focus now the Queensland Government election is out of the way, but lack of intergovernmental co-operation is hampering progress.
With the Federal Government not getting the result it wanted - the election of a LNP government in Queensland and a LNP member for Keppel - a question lingers over whether it will be able to partner effectively with the incoming Labor Government to deliver funding to unlock the island's potential as a tourism mecca.
Despite Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Queensland Senator Matt Canavan standing on the beach on Great Keppel Island in 2016 to call for action on the island's redevelopment to deliver a predicted 1500 jobs to the region, the Federal Government is yet to add to the $30 million the Queensland Government has on the table.
Visiting Rockhampton during October in support of the LNP's State Election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison bemoaned the struggles between the state and federal governments to get on the same page to progress key CQ infrastructure projects.
"We're really keen to get on and do things, and have been despite a lot of delays trying to push the State Government to get moving on everything from Rookwood Weir (to Great Keppel Island), which has been a frustrating process," Mr Morrison said.
The Prime Minister had hoped the Queensland Government would change, allowing them to "get on with so many more things" and to "take the initiative" when it came to key infrastructure projects.
"These are State Government things that need to get sorted, and we're happy to get involved, where we can, on so many projects," he said.
"We understand the importance of these initiatives, but you've got to have a partner who gets it and it's been really pushing it uphill on so many of these projects.
"When it comes to Great Keppel Island, so much of that has to do with decisions that State Governments have to make."
Ms Landry said during the Prime Minister's campaign visit that "god willing" a state LNP government would be elected and they were able sit down with the stakeholders to hammer out a solution.
With the LNP unsuccessful in its election bid, Ms Landy was asked whether she would still be willing to participate in a discussion with the stakeholders, including likely re-elected Labor incumbent member for Keppel Brittany Lauga.
"I live at Yeppoon, so I want it to go ahead but it's got to be done sensibly," Ms Landry said.
"My plan is, and always will be, to work with all relevant stakeholders to get projects built here to benefit the entire region. That is my priority and it will continue to be my priority."
She pointed to her success in delivering billions of dollars for projects in Capricornia since being elected in 2013.
"We have tried to work with the Queensland Government on Great Keppel Island. I sat in meetings with the Member for Keppel, Altum Constructions and Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll in good faith and we all promised to leave the politics behind and carry on with the project," Ms Landry said.
"However, the Member for Keppel backflipped on her election promise and in the same breath blamed the Federal Government yet again for her own failings.
"I have also facilitated meetings on behalf of Altum Constructions with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt and the office of Minister for Tourism Simon Birmingham."
Ms Landry said she was also aware Altum Constructions was involved in ongoing discussions with the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
"Myself and the Federal Government are always willing to work with all levels of government and we have done so in Capricornia for years," she said.
"I think we all understand the importance of initiatives like GKI but we need a solid partner in this who actually wants to get on with it too and not use it as a political football.
"I'm more than happy to sit down with all stakeholders to see what more can be done for GKI."
The member for Capricorn mused that it would be good to get the truth out of the State Government because the $25 million originally promised for underground power and water was never going to be enough.
"I have never, ever, seen a proper business case on this. The member for Keppel is very good at saying straight after the election, 'where's the Federal Government's money?'" she said.
"Well, you need to show us the business case for that."
The Morning Bulletin received a reassurance from the Queensland Government that Ms Landry received the business case in an email on March 9.
When questioned on the email, Ms Landry said the business case she received for the underwater power and water pipeline was "laughable".
"For such an important project potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the business case I received from the Member for Keppel was 15 pages long, mostly comprised of graphics, and was still watermarked as a draft," she said.
"I publicly asked for a real business case earlier this year, I still have not received an updated business case and to date, that is the only documentation I've seen so far about the pipeline.
"If it's clearly marked as a draft document, how can the Federal Government be certain the information in there is correct or accurate?
"The pipeline project was a commitment made by the Member for Keppel back in 2017. She still hasn't delivered on that promise but she sees fit to drag me into her mistakes and I've had a gutful of it."
Ms Landry said she wanted to get on with the job of delivering for Capricornia.
"As the Prime Minister said, these are State Government initiatives that need to be sorted out and we are happy to get involved but we need a serious partner who will treat the project seriously," she said.
"The document I received was evidence that the Queensland Government doesn't."
Queensland Government's role in GKI revitalisation
Visiting Rockhampton in October during the election campaign, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was asked whether more money could be diverted towards delivering the undersea power and water connection to the island.
Ms Palaszczuk reaffirmed her government's $30 million commitment towards revitalising GKI which would go towards a cyclone rated jetty, barge slant boat ramp, solar with backup generators, new walking trails, rehabilitate existing walking trails and visitor facilities including amenities, shade and seating.
Incumbent Labor candidate for Keppel Brittany Lauga took aim at Ms Landry's handling of the GKI issue.
"For too long, Michelle Landry has taken locals for granted," Ms Lauga said.
"She's delivered nothing, despite having been given the Great Keppel business plan in March 2020.
"She talks up tourism and economic development, but has delivered nothing to back it up."
Despite years of negotiations around the development of GKI, she said the Federal Government had not put one red cent on the table.
"That means no investment in the Capricorn Coast; no support for local businesses, and no desire to help create hundreds of local jobs," she said.
"It's the State Labor Government that continues to do the heavy lifting, putting up $30 million to deliver infrastructure on Great Keppel Island.
"I'm calling on Michelle Landry and Scott Morrison to give the people of Keppel their fair share and match the Queensland Government's $30 million funding.
"If Michelle Landry is serious about working in a bipartisan way, she must deliver the funding our region needs to grow - platitudes are not enough."
Ms Lauga said construction on GKI's tourism infrastructure would begin before the end of 2020.
"I want to see boots on the ground, building this new infrastructure, creating jobs now - because I know that's what locals want," she said.
"Tourism and construction will be vital to rebuilding the local economy. This $30 million injection will really help in the economic recovery of our community. The Palaszczuk Government is still committed to GKI."
Update from aspiring GKI developer Altum
Altum Property Groups's sale contract to take over Tower Holdings' GKI leases was due to expire on October 30 - a process complicated by the Queensland Government going into caretaker mode for the State Election campaign.
When asked about the deadline, Altum said more news could be expected in the coming weeks.
"Altum is still keen to progress the project," an Altum spokesperson said.
"We are hoping to proceed with an alternate funding strategy for common user infrastructure which we hope to table with the current member and incoming ministers as soon as possible."