The LNP Government says its $40 million election promise to improve access to Cairns port is likely to cost more than double the promised amount.
This morning on ABC Radio Far North, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said that the cost may now blow out to be more than $85 million and that it may take a lot longer than initially thought.
“This is the latest in a series of stuff-ups by the LNP government which is fast realising that things are never as simple as they made them out to be when they were in Opposition.
“Mr Seeney’s pre-emptive blaming of the Federal Government for likely refusal of a poorly thought out election promise is not good enough.
“During the election campaign, Campbell Newman said opening up Trinity Inlet to larger cruise ships was ‘the single most important thing for Cairns’, and set aside $40 million for the project.
“Most estimates by insiders have this project potentially costing $100 million plus, if it is going to have the room for larger cruise ships.
“Are they now saying that the project should go ahead at any cost – both in terms of the environment and the estimate cost blowout?
“Despite not yet having put in an application to the Federal Government, Mr Seeney is saying federal approval is what is going to be the problem.
“This is without the sudden realisation that the scope of the project will depend on the length, depth and width of the channel and dredging needed for the swing basin, as well as the wharf structures.”
Mr Pitt said the Labor Opposition in July, called for the release of the dredging feasibility report originally commissioned by the former government, but the response from the LNP Member for Cairns Gavin King was one of gobsmacking arrogance.
“Gavin King basically said it’s on a need to know basis and the general public of Cairns didn’t need to know,” he said.
In The Cairns Post, on 18 July 2012, he said:
“It’s with the experts and I’m not sure what the benefits of releasing it are.”
The newspaper report went on to say:
“…Cairns MP Gavin King said the report was before the Deputy Premier and Transport Minister and was not ready to be released.”
“This flies in the face of comments by the Deputy Premier today who said he had ‘no idea’ what happened to that study,” Mr Pitt said.
When asked if the study had come back to his department today Mr Seeney replied:
“No, no, I have no knowledge of it at all.”
“One of them isn’t telling the truth here, either Mr King or Mr Seeney is wrong – the question is which one?” Mr Pitt said.
“To date, Gavin King has overseen the loss of $95.3 million in funding for Cairns by the previous Labor Government. Will the $40 million commitment for dredging Trinity Inlet be now added to that tally?
“Based on the stall tactics by the Deputy Premier and utter confusion within the LNP about this project, people in the Cairns region should feel conned by this government.”
Mr Pitt said the release of this report may answer questions about whether this concept stacks in terms of cost to benefit, Mr Seeney and Mr King must release the report to the people of Cairns today.