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Why are we waiting?

By Mark Beale

BOTH major political parties pledged $3 million for an upgrade to Cannonvale’s dangerous VMR boat ramp in the State Government election of January 31, but nearly two months have now passed and nothing at the ramp has changed.

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan confirmed he recently met with local boat ramp advocate Greg France who was anxious not to let the issue drop.

“[And] I’ll bang the drum more than the Beatles did… I’ll be making representations to the new minister for not only transport but also tourism to get [the new Labor Government] to deliver it,” Mr Costigan said.

While on the one hand Mr Costigan said he would be “holding them to account”, on the other he stressed he wanted to “put the politics out of it” and just get the job done.

However, he still maintained the boat ramp could have already been built with money from the State Government’s Royalties for the Regions funds under his previous watch

“Her worship [the mayor] she’s out of line here… they made a decision to put $5 million into a hinterland road in the former Bowen shire. I’m not saying it was a dud project… but the Council made the decision … they could have said to the Chamber of Commerce ‘what so you think?’, they could have said to WMD (Whitsundays Marketing and Development), or Greg France or [boat ramp advocate] Bob Spees… or they could have said to me, ‘what about you? You’re the government MP… what do you think? Would you like to have some say?,” he said.

“Well I would have said ‘you know what your worship, maybe we should chase the money to build the VMR boat ramp and make it a safer facility to grow tourism and what-not. But guess what… I never had the phone call, I never had the conversation and [now] every time [former mayor] Mike Brunker goes up and down that road to his old stomping ground to catch up with his old comrades he has a better road.”

Mayor Jennifer Whitney responded to this, as she has before, by saying the boat ramp didn’t meet the criteria for Royalties to the Regions funding.

Mr Costigan said “that’s just crap”.

Cr Whitney noted no recreational boat ramp facilities had been funded through this program elsewhere in the state.

She also said Council had been driving a modification of the boat ramp design that would work within the $3 million price tag.

She said she hoped to have a meeting with the boat ramp committee next week.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Labor’s Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports, Mark Bailey, confirmed the new Labor Government would be honouring their $3 million boat ramp pledge.

“I’m unable to provide a precise timeline, but I’ve asked the department to act on this as quickly as possible for the good people of the Whitsundays,” he said.

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