Frustration has turned to anger once again in the battle over who should pay for upgrades to bring Shoalwater Bay Army Training Area (SWBTA) access roads up to a safe standard, and to secure a fair contribution for on-going road maintenance.
Mayor Bill Ludwig said the latest response from Coalition assistant Defence Minister David Fawcett has demonstrated once again just how out of touch and arrogant this Federal Government remains on these key issues impacting Livingstone Shire ratepayers.
“The latest suggestion from Assistant Minister Fawcett is that Livingstone should direct the $600,000 annual Federal “Roads to Recovery’ funding to upgrading of their army access roads," Cr Ludwig said.
“At that rate it would take more than 30 years to bring the roads up to the safe appropriate standard for ADF use.
“The relatively modest amount of Roads to Recovery funding that Livingstone does receive is fully committed to our Shire-wide rural roads sealing program.
“It is both insulting and arrogant to the extreme for the Minister to suggest that Council use Roads to Recovery money to do the works the Federal Government has an ethical and moral obligation, to do especially with the $1 billion SWBTA expansion now underway.
“With the Morrison Government’s budget just announced $2.2 billion for regional road infrastructure, as well as the $1 billion ADF are spending to upgrade and expand SWBTA, it is beyond belief that not one dollar can be found to make Shire owned access roads safe and ‘fit for purpose’.
“The other major disappointment has been with significant ADF land acquisitions increasing the financial pressure on ratepayers; our elected Federal representatives are remaining virtually silent on these issues.
“This election we are calling on every Federal candidate, including the current members Michelle Landry and Senator Matt Canavan, to stand up and condemn this appalling situation.
“We need candidates to commit to getting all army access roads, in particular Stanage Bay Road, upgraded and sealed so they are fully compliant with the appropriate army convoy and required ‘b-double route’ safety standards.
“Despite 5 years of representations for a ‘fair go’ to a revolving door of four different Coalition Defence Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Senators we are still no closer to getting any acceptable outcome.
“Livingstone Shire ratepayers have always wholeheartedly supported both ADF and the national interest in relation to SWBTA.
“What we have been gutted by is the total lack of reciprocal support to making access roads safe, and a binding agreement for ADF to also make a fair and meaningful contribution to on-going maintenance.
“With ADF now occupying more than 25% of our Shire, and making no other financial contribution whatsoever, this should not be too much to ask,” Cr Ludwig said.