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Townsville Port in political play with Treasurer Jackie Trad

Townsville Port hosts Qld Treasurer Jackie Trad announcing crane and cargo machinery acquisition for the port

Townsville Port involved in political hustle

The political jostling over major infrastructure funding announcements between local, state and federal government could be adding to the tainted reputation of Queensland and corporate logistic interests on the back of the anti-Adani campaign by the Palzsuzcus government, and a rather bizarre press conference at the Townsville Port by the Queensland Treasurer.

At an announcement of the State government’s funding for Townsville Port to acquire new cranes and equipment to increase the operational capacity of the largest port in Northern Queensland, the Mayor Jenny Hill’s comments were found to be at odds with the incoming Queensland Labor Treasurer, Jackie Trad.

Like the Adani owned port at Abbott Point near Bowen, the Townsville Port expansion is critical to the growth of regional Queensland mining and transport interests, all of which are being covertly targeted by the Palaszczuk government for being dirty polluters.

The resources industry and its energy demands are incongruent with the Labor government’s carbon emissions aspirations of a zero net emission target by 2050. This is the Queensland Labor government’s policy.

At the government’s press conference at the Townsville Port, Ms. Hill also said, “I’m very happy that all levels of Government have been able to work together towards this upgrade,”

However, the Treasurer Ms. Trad contradicted the Townsville Mayor saying, “The Palaszczuk Government committed $75 million in the 2017/18 budget into the channel project and has called on the Federal Government to contribute to the project.

Hypocritical use of taxpayer funds

The Labor party Mayor is a pro-Adani advocate committing $18.5 million to fund the Adani airstrip in the Galilee Basin, which is at odds with the Labor Premier and Treasurer who refused to facilitate funding through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to the Adani project and railway.

The State government crane equipment acquisition project is the headline of the Townsville Port press conference.

Nevertheless, the Townsville Mayor Cr Jenny Hill says the Channel Capacity Upgrade is a key initiative under the Townsville City Deal between the Queensland and Australian governments, and Townsville City Council.

As the Townsville City Deal has been signed off by all levels of government, the federal government has already committed to the project as Ms. Hill insinuated.

How is the Townsville North Queensland economy and employment performing?

As a matter of procedure, the federal environmental impact assessment must be completed as with state environmental impact assessments in accordance with legislation. Therefore, it is not pending a party policy decision.

A substantial part of the $1.6 billion port expansion project is expected to come from the federal government through an application by Townsville Ports Limited to the NAIF or similar federal fund.

NAIF is the same funding facility that has been vetoed by the Palaszczuk government, blocking funding for the Adani Carmichael coal mine which is also forecast to create thousands of jobs and add $18 billion to the Queensland economy. All state and federal environmental impact requirements for the Carmichael mine have already been approved.

“Investing in the Port is vital to Townsville’s economic future and this announcement today will help to ensure there is capacity for the additional ships attracted through the Channel Capacity Upgrade.” Ms. Hill said.

“This is in addition to the 100 jobs which have already been generated by the upgrade of Berth 4 through a $40.7 million investment to raise the deck and extend the quay line of the berth.” Ms. Trad said.

Bandwagon of local candidates

Berth 4 is a different project to the crane acquisition project despite the cranes being used on all berths at the Port. Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said that the activity is part of the Port’s long-term strategic vision to become the premier container port for Northern Australia.

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said that the activity is part of the Port’s long-term strategic vision to become the premier container port for Northern Australia.

“Here in Townsville we are perfectly positioned to grow our local export market; capitalising on its strong diversity of trade and close proximity to Asia,” Mr. Stewart said.

“That’s what our Palaszczuk Government is focused on because we know growing our exports means more jobs for North Queenslanders.”

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the Palaszczuk Government was working with the Port to help it expand. “A key part of this development plan is the Townsville Port Expansion Project, which includes a $193 million Channel Capacity Upgrade,”  Mr. Harper said.

“This project proposes to widen the navigational channels into the Port of Townsville to accommodate larger ships.”

“The State has approved an Environmental Impact Statement for the project and is eagerly awaiting final assessment from the Federal regulators,” Ms. Trad said.

Deception by the Treasurer

However, the press conference was called to announce that the Port of Townsville has received approval to fund a $27.3 million investment into new cranes and cargo handling infrastructure, which are expected to contribute more carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

The Townsville Port said, “During a visit to the port today, Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the investment would develop jobs and support the efficient operation of container and cargo handling berths.

Yet the Queensland Labor ministers and local politicians focused on the port expansion, which had already been announced. The majority of its funding will flow from the federal government who has vehemently supported the Adani mine for the thousands of jobs it will bring to Queensland’s regional economy.

Yet Ms. Trad said in announcing the Townsville Port crane acquisition project aiming to generate 35 jobs said, “This project is incredibly important to the local economy, maximising the use of the newly developed Berth 4 as a multi-user berth.”

“Berth 4 is expected to be finished by early next year and the additional terminal storage capacity and infrastructure will attract future growth for the Port and help to support our North Queensland exporters.”

However, the Treasurer has been a key player in stopping mining activity in regional Queensland that contributes to global warming in order to appease the Green vote in her own South Brisbane electorate.

Ms. Trad has effectively announced State government funding for more carbon emission cranes for the Townsville Port. The cranes are produced using coking coal in steel production, and the manufacturing industries are highly dependent on base-load energy generation.

Townsville City Deal reference unfounded

Minister for Ports Mark Bailey said that this was an important step forward for Berth 4. However, Berth 4 is not included in the scope of the Smart City Deal Port expansion project and has nothing to do with the federal government.

“This approval allows the Port to invest in its own cranes and cargo handling infrastructure to drive the growth of container and general cargo at Berth 4 in the short to medium term,” Mr. Bailey said.

Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke, who was called “useless” by LNP Leader Deb Frecklington, said that “the project was a boost for the local economy.”

The cranes and cargo handling funding is replacing the capacity of existing equipment and is not a capital works project contributing to the channel widening and new berths being constructed on the seaward side of the existing port.

“The project will create 35 direct positions during the construction phase and support ongoing jobs once the project is complete,” Mrs. O’Rourke said.

“This is in addition to the 100 jobs which have already been generated by the upgrade of Berth 4 through a $40.7 million investment to raise the deck and extend the quay line of the berth.”

Townsville Port expansion

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the Palaszczuk Government was working with the Port to help it expand.

The Port expansion was approved by the Coordinator General in September 2017 because it satisfied all concerns about environmental and social impacts, the Minister for Ports, Mr. Mark Bailey reported.

Wide load alert for $193m Port expansion in Townsville

Again, neither the crane acquisition project or Berth 4 project are included in the scope of the Coordinators Generals consideration of the port expansion.

The port expansion project is a $1.64 billion investments by state and federal governments. The majority of funding will be derived from the federal government infrastructure funds.

Yet the Treasurer, an anti-mining advocate in the Labor factions and an inner-Brisbane green sympathiser has been caught playing politics with Townsville’s Port by announcing funding for intense carbon omitting cranes and forklifts while diverting attention to a previously announced project and unrelated port expansion project that is awaiting final federal environmental approval.

Labor government policy

The Labor government climate policy may destroy the largest mining project Australia has seen in fifty years, providing greater exports through Queensland Ports while scoring political points on a relatively incidental equipment acquisition project that in fact will add to global carbon emissions.

The hypocrisy and serious uncertainty of the Palaszczuk government’s policies impacting regional Queensland are likely to impact on potentially new mining and transport operation investment, and therefore sabotage the potential of the Townsville Port in the future to generate maximum economic expansion and jobs in North Queensland.

Also, the Labor government’s lack of maintenance funding of the Mount Isa rail corridor has impacted the capacity of this critical transport infrastructure. Meanwhile, the Northern Territory government’s plan to build a railway connecting Queensland’s north-west mineral district to the Darwin Port which is now owned by entity backed by the China government.

The combination of poor infrastructure investment, overzealous climate change policy and ambiguous accountability for funding through the Smart City Deal and nation-building facilities such as the NAIF, could be unfavourable for Townsville’s economy.

Abuse of constitutional democracy

This is especially so as voters continue to be misled by the state government, who constitutionally have the luxury of legal prerogative over our natural resources and transport infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Townsville City Council stands strong in condoning the rhetoric of a semi-totalitarian political party culture that is more committed to holding onto power than it is interested in being honest and truthful to the public about the role it is playing in sabotaging the opportunities for economic prosperity in regional and northern Queensland.

Why claim credit for the $1.6 billion multi-government investment of the Townsville Port expansion when the public interest announcement is about an unrelated $27 million operational expenditure on cranes and forklifts?

What else is Ms. Trad hiding from the Townsville people that a major announcement is made for such a routine equipment expenditure?

It certainly serves to boost an inflated perception of Ms. Trad and the Palazscuz government. But if one reads between the lines and makes the effort to understand the actual policy measures, the truth can be found in a vale of institutional bribery and masterful use of media spin to the public.

What is the Port of Townsville supposed to do? It depends on the State government. Could it not publish the government scripted press release and fall out of favor with the Treasurer and Premier? Of course not. It’s an impossible position. So the actors of political deception are institutionalised, slaves if you well to the political masters.

Who can you believe?

The Townsville property, real estate and business communities need the certainty of sustainable economic development. A Brisbane-centric, anti-resources industry and Green-dependant Treasurer creates more questions than answers, leaving the Townsville people scratching their heads about where the State government is leading regional Queensland and Townsville into the future.

Before the state election, one could have believed that Townsville people could see through the crap. And the swing away from the Labor candidates suggests they can. But it is obvious that there are not enough people who saw the significance of such deception and dishonesty. It may just be a matter that the LNP and the major parties controlled by faceless entities are all the same.

The Port of Townsville crane and cargo equipment press release has been targeted at the Townsville local community in the mainstream press. The Treasurer nor the local Labor MPs have bothered to publish the announcement of the crane acquisition project on their own media channels.

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Aaron M, Editior
Aaron is the founder and editor of TREN eMagazine with 15 years experience in the real estate industry investing and helping investors seek value, leverage value and capitalise on value, developing professional and technical skills and capabilities that have enabled his success in business from startups, adoption, asset growth, management and community leadership projects. Aaron also loves travelling, sports, his partner Jodie and helping people discover their "why" and find their few "what's" in life that realise the "wows. The " www" in is one of his why, what and wow's that strive to add valuable content and analysis for readers to participate and win.