VIDEO: Deputy Premier Jackie Trad won't budge on GKI
DEPUTY Premier Jackie Trad held a tough stance on the ongoing issue of the Great Keppel Island redevelopment while visiting Rockhampton and Livingstone yesterday.
While Ms Trad was in Rockhampton to inspect Kershaw Gardens in the aftermath of Cyclone Marcia and switch on the gardens' iconic waterfall for the first time since the cyclone hit, she re-addressed the GKI casino issue.
The Bulletin top headlines
A $600 million eco-resort was approved to be built by Tower Holdings at Great Keppel Island (GKI) but it had not secured enough cash from investors and needed a casino licence to attract funding.
Plans to redevelop Great Keppel Island and boost Central Queensland tourism received a setback on May 1 when the State Government announced it would not support a boutique casino licence for GKI.
Ms Trad said she knew how much the CQ community wanted a resort on GKI and urged Tower Holdings to "get on with the job".
"I think it's incredibly important to understand the whole history here. The GKI development proposal never ever, ever included a casino licence," Ms Trad said.
"When the former Newman government opened up a three new casino licence program, GKI applied under the previous Newman government and they were unsuccessful.
"That program closed. There is no new casino licences in Queensland, there's no new program."
Ms Trad said Tower Holdings had the go-ahead from the State Government.
"The whole GKI resort development has got all of the approvals from the State Government it needs to start being built and I really encourage Tower Holdings to commit to what they promised last year, which was that they would build this resort with or without the casino licence," she said.
The CQ community responded to the State Government's "no casino" decision with the creation of the Our Keppel Our Future community group.
Our Keppel Our Future member Vanessa Rauluni was sure the government could compromise on the GKI decision, and pointed out that they were more than willing to when it came to the Abbot Point port expansion.
"The plan developed by Premier Palaszczuk at Abbot Point indicates she is willing to come up with a 'third plan' to achieve sustainable resolutions," Ms Rauluni said.
"In this instance, they took what appeared to be the high middle ground, having both good environmental outcomes whilst still delivering good economic outcomes.
"With this in mind, we would like to remind the Deputy Premier that if GKI is unable to go ahead due to lack of investment funding and business confidence from overseas markets, then this could result in longer-term environmental research and positive sustainability outcomes for the region not being realised.
"Currently, the island resort sits boarded and vacant as the resort was having an unsustainable environmental impact on the groundwater reserves of the island and was proving unsustainable economically to continue to run. The revised design that was approved by both the State and Federal government worked to achieve economic and environmental sustainability.
"The greater significance of the project is the long-term monitoring of the regional marine and terrestrial ecosystems funded through an independent body and the access to a marine research and education centre, all privately funded.
"What does an offshore boutique casino licence mean? Literally, it provides business investment confidence. The project itself then utilises this confidence to invest in CQ and our economy and provides not just jobs but a comprehensive string of environmental, social and economic benefits into the future.
"From the wider regional perspective, this business confidence may increase the timing of the international airport capacity for cargo through Rockhampton, as discussed at Beef 2015, for export of semen and other agricultural goods to then swiftly become an international passenger terminal for tourism and business purposes."
Ms Trad also discussed Category D funding for areas affected by Cyclone Marcia.
"We hope that the Federal Government will come to the party soon and support the application for Category D funding," Ms Trad said.
"The Palaszczuk government is very supportive of it. We've reached out to the Federal Government and said we are willing to support it 50/50, not the traditional 75/25 arrangement because we know how important it is to Central Queensland.
"I'm pleased to re-double my call for the Federal Government to give Rockhampton a fair go and to put some money on the table for the Category D funding."