After nearly ten years of planning and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) approval received in February, the future of the Townsville Port Expansion Project is under threat because of funding cuts.
The Federal Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher revealed today that the Turnbull Government wouldn’t be kicking in their share for the channel widening project, which has already received $75 million in funding from the Palaszczuk Government.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said that Mr Fletcher had let the cat out of the bag and outlined the Federal Government’s reluctance to fund this much needed project.
“The Port of Townsville Channel Widening Project is a fundamental part of the economic future of Townsville and North Qld as well as the Townsville City Deal. Unless the channel into Townsville Port is widened, more and more of the increasingly common larger ships will simply bypass Townsville for Brisbane adding to the cost of many goods for all North Queenslanders.”
“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government made a $75 million commitment in June last year to get on with the Channel Widening project and why Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged to match our funding commitment if elected,” added Minister Bailey.
Mr Bailey also said that he was yet to see any funding from the Turnbull Government for the port and any offer of a loan is a kick in the teeth to the very successful operators of the facility.
The government’s approval of the EIS received earlier this year meant that the preliminary works on Stage 1, the $193 million Channel Widening Project, could begin this April, pending a resolution on final funding between the State and Federal Governments.
Port of Townsville has already prepared $43 million for the widening, the Queensland Government placed their $75 million funding commitment and was waiting for a matched $75 million contribution from the Federal Government for the project to proceed.
Now, with the announced funding cuts it is unclear how and when the project will begin.