With the federal election now called, the next five weeks will determine what additional funding commitments our community can secure from the two major parties who are likely to have the ability to form Government.
The key area of tourism infrastructure has been rightly acknowledged by both the Coalition and Labor as a key economic driver for our region and a sector that has huge potential for job creation and building diversity in our economy.
The two major projects that Livingstone Shire Council has put forward two major projects and has called on both sides of politics to provide funding support. The first project is the provision of power and water trunk infrastructure to enable the revitalisation of Great Keppel Island Council. The second project of equal important is the proposed Keppel Bay Sailing Club Convention Centre.
To date federal Labor have committed $25 million to the GKI power and water infrastructure that, when combined with the $31.8 million commitment from the State Government, should see that project move forward.
Disappointingly the Coalition have elected not to work in partnership with the State Government to support GKI going ahead.
This is challenging to understand given that providing ‘enabling’ power and water infrastructure will be critical to securing the private sector investment GKI needs to deliver more than 1600 jobs for our region.
Also of concern is this week’s Coalition response to Labor’s commitment to invest in bringing the Rockhampton Airport up to full international capability. The logic that was put forward was the region does not have enough tourist attractions to support international tourism.
The Coalition have however certainly been talking very positively about potentially making a commitment to the Keppel Bay Sailing Club (KBSC) Convention Centre. It was past-over twice in previous federal funding rounds but, if supported, will certainly be a huge coupe for our region.
A thousand seat convention centre in an absolute beachfront location, beside the hugely successful Yeppoon Lagoon precinct, will be a real ‘magnet’ for attracting major State and national conventions to the region.
There is also a sound business case for any Federal Government to support the KBSC Convention Centre. This project will also capitalise on the $53 million partnership investment that Livingstone Council put together with the support of both the State ($29 million) and Federal Government ($10 million) to transform the Yeppoon Foreshore.
In a perfect world it would be great to have both sides of politics supporting all three projects. The reality is we absolutely need all three projects.
Collectively, these projects will help transform the Capricorn Coast and our region into the national and international drawcard tourism destination we need to diversify and underpin our economic growth and future prosperity.