Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said that a leaked email from Member for Cairns to Mayor Bob Manning detailing plans for work on the Cairns CBD proves Mr King has been deceiving people in Far North Queensland.

Yesterday in state parliament, Mr Pitt asked Premier Campbell Newman to acknowledge that the LNP planned to replace Labor’s $38 million funding commitment with a tokenistic $3 million project for the Cairns CBD.

“The Premier didn’t seem to know anything about plans for the Cairns CBD when asked about this and quite simply didn’t answer the question. Has the Member for Cairns not kept him in the loop or is Mr King acting alone?” said Mr Pitt.

“In the leaked email, Mr King says:

“The $38 million that many people were concerned about ‘losing’ is staying in FNQ.”

“It acknowledges that there is $38 million that won’t be ‘lost’ to FNQ despite King previously saying it didn’t exist. *

“Mr King himself wrote an article in The Cairns Post in 2011 that talked about the previous Labor Government’s budget announcement of $38 million.**

“Mr King has been caught out being loose with the truth on numerous occasions and it’s very disappointing.”

Mr Pitt said the email also revealed that only $3 million will now be spent on the CBD instead of what was previously a $38 million package for the Far North under Labor.

“This is a loss of $6 million straight up from the $12 million that has already been allocated as a line item in the 2011-12 budget, with the remaining $26 million included in the forward estimates,” Mr Pitt said. ***

“With a $3 million commitment, no wonder Mr King was being ‘tight lipped’ about the costings of his CBD proposal in the newspaper earlier this week.

“And it’s no wonder that CBD business people aren’t optimistic about the city getting its fair share in the budget, with Craig Squire saying:

“I think it’s disappointing; we were on the verge of getting some good money but we’ve been shafted.”

“The email also makes it clear the money Mr King is using as ‘currency’ for local negotiations is not guaranteed as it is still subject to the Cabinet Budget Review Committee.”

Mr Pitt said the email went further to say that the remaining $32 million will be spent to improve flood immunity on two bridges on the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Ingham.

“If the government does intend to spend money on the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Ingham, residents in my electorate of Mulgrave or further south in Hinchinbrook may benefit, and of course I would welcome that,” he said.

“But residents of the Cairns electorate must sure be asking – can Gavin King hold on to any funding?

“At a time when the Far North needs support from the State Government, the LNP has announced they’re walking away from projects that would’ve provided vital jobs and economic stimulus to the region.

“Since becoming the local member, his contribution to the Cairns electorate to date has conservatively been ‘’minus $95.3 million’ – based on lost state funding of $38 million for the CBD project, and $57.3 million for the Cairns Entertainment Precinct.

“It gets worse when you throw in the $40 million value of the port land and the $40 million from the federal government for the CEP.”

Mr Pitt said if the full $38 million is made available for Cairns and the Far North, people need to remember that it’s because it had already been previously allocated.

“Even the LNP Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the Newman Government has no excuse for scrapping the Lake St upgrade, quote:

“The money may well have been [committed] by a previous government, but it’s the government that made the commitment, not a political party.”

“In terms of how the LNP views Cairns, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney let the cat out of the bag earlier this week when he said ‘it’s not all about Cairns’ as it was when the ALP was in government,” he said.

“If ‘Brisbane’s man in Cairns’ does indeed turn this around and bring on some projects to replace the shovel ready ones he’s lost, I’ll congratulate him.

“But that’s the point – these projects that have been lost were well advanced in their planning or were shovel ready.”

Gavin King’s statements

* On radio 4CA, the Member for Cairns said on 13 June:

This $38 million was just a figment of Anna Bligh’s imagination…[and]…the reason no dollars were spent by the previous Labor Government was because there was no money.”

** Article ‘Construction, tourism big winners’ written by Gavin King, 15 June 2011 said:

“The budget also contained the first $12 million of a $38 million package to overhaul Lake St Bus services and City Place…”

Budget reference

*** Capital Statement 2011-12, page 111 – Cairns Bus Station and Barron River Bus Stops