The fight to have the Australian Government undertake safety upgrades and pay their fair share of maintenance on Stanage Bay Road is in limbo once again following the recent retirement announcements of two senior Government Defence Ministers.
Mayor Bill Ludwig, who travelled to Canberra just weeks ago to meet with both Government and Opposition Ministers to discuss the vital army access road upgrades and defence industry opportunities, said the retirement announcements of both Christopher Pyne (Defence Minister) and Steven Ciobo (Defence Industries Minister) has come 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 Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI) 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.
“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 Australian Defence Forces on-going 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 (SWBTA) access roads safe to travel for all local families and visitors.
“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.”