Ludwig frustrated his Canberra lobbying may be in vain
LIVINGSTONE Shire's mayor Bill Ludwig is worried his lobbying efforts in Canberra to upgrade Stanage Bay Rd could be stuck in limbo following the resignations of two defence ministers.
In late February, Cr Ludwig visited the nation's capital seeking approximately $47 million to undertake safety upgrades and a contribution towards the maintenance of the key access road to Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area while also discussing the establishment of defence industries in the shire.
He said the road represented a significant safety hazard which created "an appalling situation, risking local residents and visitors who run the gauntlet every time they travel on local access roads during military exercises".
After meeting with, and forwarding proposals to both government and opposition ministers, Cr Ludwig said the recent retirement announcements of both Christopher Pyne (Defence Minister) and Steve Ciobo (Defence Industries Minister) came as a real shock.
"Council put in an extraordinary effort to prepare a comprehensive and compelling submission to take to Canberra only to find both Government Ministers were effectively resigning just days after," Cr Ludwig said.
"With the massive $1 billion Australian Singapore Military Defence Initiative also in play it is an absolutely extraordinary situation to have both senior government ministers vacating these important portfolios."
"It would appear that our efforts and the critical message for safer roads and a fairer outcome for Livingstone ratepayers have likely fallen on deaf ears."
He said with both these senior ministers leaving it is not likely they will have any real interest in addressing either the urgently needed safety road upgrades or the massive cost to ratepayers of subsidising the Australian Defence Forces' ongoing use of shire roads with minimal contribution to maintenance.
"This could easily be turned into a win-win situation with the road upgrades making ADF's operations more effective and efficient, providing a direct benefit to local primary producers but most importantly, making Shoalwater Bay Training Area access roads safe to travel for all local families and visitors," he said.
"This is something that we have put to both sides of politics and received a very favourable hearing from both opposition ministers who made time to hear our case.
"Hopefully we still will get a positive outcome and common sense will prevail however it has been challenging to have confidence when high-profile ministers in the key areas like this that affect our region announce they are leaving just weeks before an election."
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said Cr Ludwig was always welcome in Canberra and she was always happy to provide him with assistance to secure meetings with relevant ministers.
"While Defence does currently pay for the privilege of using Stanage Bay Rd, I can definitely see why Bill is so keen to get funding to upgrade it," Ms Landry said.
"I will continue discussing this project with Livingstone Shire Council and with my colleagues to ensure our region gets more than its fair share of infrastructure funding."
Assistant Minister for Defence David Fawcett, who is now the minister responsible, was approached for comment.