Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig, Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga and Tourism Minister Kate Jones
Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig, Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga and Tourism Minister Kate Jones Trish Bowman

Pressure is on Feds to cough up GKI infrastructure funding

QUEENSLAND'S Tourism Minister, Kate Jones has accused the Federal Government of walking away from Great Keppel Island and the Capricornia electorate by knocking back a $25 million application to the Regional Growth Fund this month.

During the 2017 state election campaign, the Queensland Government committed $25 million to a recovery package for the island towards infrastructure projects like power and water connection to the mainland, sewerage treatment, a public jetty, boat ramp and day-use amenities, including public toilets.

Now Ms Jones is calling on Capricornia MP, Michelle Landry to match the funds.

She said a project team was engaged in February and options and costings were being finalised and would be known soon.

"Our funding is not dependent on Federal funding," Ms Jones said.

"While we finalise costings, Russell Robertson (ALP candidate for Capricornia) is lobbying for matching Federal Labor funding in Canberra.

"The difference is Michelle Landry has never bothered to call me once."

 

An underwater photo of a turtle in a school of fish at Great Keppel Island.
An underwater photo of a turtle in a school of fish at Great Keppel Island. Anthony Vaughan

Yesterday Ms Landry said she was frustrated by the State Government's claims.

"At the last election, the Member for Keppel said the State Government would put up $25 million for power, water and other infrastructure and that basically won her the election," she said.

"Soon after that they started saying the Federal Government needed to put in.

"We don't even know the cost. There'll need to be a substation at Emu Park; what of the impact on the Great Barrier Reef from dredging for the pipelines?"

Subject to due diligence, Singapore-based private company, Wei Chau has committed $800 million to return the island to its former glory, something Ms Jones said "everybody up there wants to see".

Capricorn Enterprise CEO, Mary Carroll has lobbied all levels of government to see partnerships developed with industry on a number of projects.

She said any government funding was welcome for GKI infrastructure.

"We need to ensure any infrastructure built meets the capacity for decades to come. To see the focus and the funding commitment we already have for GKI is extraordinary," she said.

"Most people underestimate how complex and expensive it is to build tourism infrastructure, especially on a Great Barrier Reef island.

"As the landlord, the State Government has stepped up to the plate on this occasion and I believe they are meeting their responsibility."

 

Capricorn Enterprise CEO, Mary Carroll with Isabella and CK Wei who have signed a contract for an undisclosed sum for Tower Holdings' leases on Great Keppel Island.
Capricorn Enterprise CEO, Mary Carroll with Isabella and CK Wei who have signed a contract for Tower Holdings' leases on Great Keppel Island.

Ms Carroll said Queensland's tourism industry had to stay ahead of the game in the face of major competitors like Thailand, Indonesia, Fiji and Hawaii.

"Those countries don't have the health and safety laws we have and wages aren't as high," she said.

"The Great Barrier Reef is the most protected reef in the world and tourism developments there are complex and expensive.

"Here we have an investor who has fallen in love with the island and willing to invest $800 million.

"To have government support to assist not just the resort but other existing and potentially new businesses and residents is a once in a generation opportunity."