General News

7 May, 2024

Water bid hotting up

CAIRNS Regional Council is full steam ahead in lobbying state and federal governments for an extra $257 million to shore up its $472m project to draw water from the Mulgrave River.

By Nick Dalton

Water bid hotting up - feature photo

Councillors at Wednesday’s ordinary council meeting reconfirmed the project as the council’s “number one advocacy priority”, unanimously voting to request the additional monies and delegating lobbying efforts to Mayor Amy Eden and either acting chief executive officer Christine Posgate or the new CEO.

Mayor Amy Eden said that additional funding commitments would alleviate the burden on ratepayers and residents, who were already experiencing significant cost-of-living pressures, including rising cost of mortgage repayments, rent, insurance and day-to-day essentials.

“A commitment to fully fund this critical project would deliver Cairns ratepayers a cost of living relief package of $488 per household, per year over the next 15 years,” she said.

“Council is also facing the prospect of a multi-million repair bill ($27m-$30m) from the damage caused by unprecedented flooding associated with ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

“While the disaster recovery support packages provided by the state and federal governments are welcome and have provided significant support, our community will inevitably still bear significant costs as we look to rebuild infrastructure, address the environmental impacts of the event, and implement initiatives to support economic and social recovery.

“Without additional funding, it will be our community that bears the cost of this critical infrastructure project through increased rates and/or charges, at a time they can least afford it.”

Cr Eden said local federal and state members supported the project, as did key stakeholders across the region.

Deputy mayor Cr Brett Olds (division 9) said the pressure was on the state government to come to the party.

He said in the last 10 years Townsville had received $1.23 billion more than Cairns and Toowoomba $1.25bn.

“Our ratepayers are taxpayers too,” Cr Olds said.

He said it was disheartening to see new stadiums, flyovers and dams being built south of Cairns with state government funding.

Cr Olds said there had been no flow to Cairns –“just ebbs and ebbs for 12 years”.

Cr Brett Moller (division 1) said governments had given Townsville up to $650m for their major water developments and it was hoped that the governments would be “consistent” in their approach to Cairns as well.

He said residents and ratepayers would be unable to fund the Mulgrave River project in its entirety.

Cr Rob Pyne (division 5) said the project had been on the books since 2008 and it was vital it did not burden ratepayers.

Cr Cathy Zeiger (division 3) said if it didn’t proceed, the community would run out of drinking water by 2026.

Cr Trevor Tim (division 4) said if Townsville got $600m-$650m, “then it ($472m) should come our way as well”.

A council report said the two levels of government had already promised $215m but another $257m was required (split $128.5m each). The extra funding was needed because the total cost of the project had blown out from $248m to $472m.


Most Popular