Far North Queenslanders have little to celebrate and every reason to commiserate as the Newman LNP Government passes its one year anniversary.
Speaking in Cairns today, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Premier Campbell Newman – backed by his local LNP Members of Parliament – had in the past year embarked on a deliberate program to rip funding out of the Far North, channelling it to other areas and leaving Cairns residents with nothing to show for 12 months of the LNP Government.
[singlepic id=472 w=320 h=240 float=left] Ms Palaszczuk said the Premier was focussed on just one infrastructure project for the entire state – a palatial new multi-million dollar Executive Building for himself and his Ministers in the heart of Brisbane – ignoring regional Queensland.
“A host of projects that were slated for Cairns and its surrounds were unceremoniously ripped from the Budget by Campbell Newman over the first year in government,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“But that was just the beginning – this Premier and his government have not only stripped money from these projects, but failed to reinvest it back into the area and fundamentally failed to tell the people of Cairns and the Far North where their funding has gone.
“Far North Queenslanders are right to be asking: ‘Where is our money?’
“And they are right to be disgusted that on this very day in Brisbane the Premier is hosting a $200-a-plate fundraising lunch to line his party’s pockets rather than dedicate funding for projects in regional Queensland.
”It is no wonder he scrapped his planned series of ‘town hall’ meetings. The LNP clearly prefers to talk to party donors than the people of Far North Queensland.”
Projects shelved in Cairns and the region under the first year of the LNP Government include the $33 million Cairns CBD redevelopment, the $57 million entertainment precinct project and the $12 million Mareeba airport redevelopment.
Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the LNP had also ripped more than $17 million from the region’s health budget this financial year.
Mr Pitt said just like the secret contents of the secret Costello audit into Queensland finances which the Premier and Treasurer refused to release for Queenslanders, the fate of taxpayer funds earmarked for FNQ would remain hidden.
“Secrecy and a lack of openness and accountability are the hallmarks of this government as it enters its second year,” Mr Pitt said.
“The Member for Cairns Gavin King must explain to the people he was elected to represent precisely where the funding formerly committed to the City of Cairns has gone.
“In a leaked email last year, Mr King acknowledged the funding allocated by the former Labor Government for the Cairns CBD project was real, despite previously saying it didn’t even exist*.
“Mr King himself wrote an article in The Cairns Post in 2011 that talked about the previous Labor Government’s budget announcement for this project.**
“Even Mr King’s LNP mate 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.”
“Since becoming the local member, Brisbane’s man in Cairns Gavin King has – conservatively – lost more than $95 million in funding, including a shovel ready project.
“Residents of the Cairns electorate must surely be asking: ‘Can Gavin King hold on to any funding?’
“But Mr King – just like the Premier – understands that this money has now travelled south to Brisbane where it will be used to build the Premier’s new city headquarters, the only infrastructure project this LNP Government will manage to get off the ground in its first term.
“Mr King should come clean about that just as the Premier and his Treasurer should come clean about what is contained in the secret Costello report and which recommendations of this so-called independent audit they intend to put in motion.”
Gavin King’s statements
* On radio 4CA, the Member for Cairns said on 13 June 2012:
“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.”
** The Cairns Post 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…”