Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt today called for clarity over the future of the Port of Cairns.

“After nearly two years of the LNP in government, there are still big question marks over the development and ownership of this valuable asset,” said Mr Pitt.

“Tomorrow is the deadline for people to comment on the draft Queensland Ports Strategy which effectively ignores Cairns and excludes it from future development plans.

“The people of FNQ deserve to know what the Newman Government intends for the port – the Member for Cairns Gavin King has questions to answer.

“We need to know if and when Trinity Inlet is to be dredged and how it will be funded.

“There are estimates that dredging will cost anywhere between $80 million and $120 million and if the Newman Government only puts up the $40 million it promised before the election that leaves a substantial shortfall to be met by Ports North.

“Does that mean funds will be raised by selling off land in the port precinct? Is the Chair of Ports North considering putting strategic port land on the market?

“If that is the case it will be a breach of the Newman Government’s promise not to sell assets without a mandate because there was no suggestion of such a land sale before the election.

“Since then we have had the Costello report which suggested selling investments by Far North Queensland Ports Corporation in property development around the Cairns Marina, but again we are waiting for detail and a clear statement of intent from Mr King or from either the Transport Minister, Scott Emerson or Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney.

“It is somewhat unusual that the estimated total dredging costs have not been included in the initial advice statement for the environmental impact assessment.

“I would also like to see some clarity on future operational costs. I understand around $1 million a year is spent on dredging of the existing port, but when the channel is deeper, longer and wider, those costs will inevitably rise,” he said.