The Premier and Labor Member for Whitsunday have misled the community over the upgrade of Proserpine’s Whitsunday Coast Airport and residents and tourists are still awaiting its completion – more than two and a half years after a pre-election promise.
That’s according to LNP Candidate for Whitsunday, Jason Costigan, who’s slammed Premier Anna Bligh and Whitsunday MP Jan Jarratt for deceiving the Whitsundays’ community and failing to deliver a vital project on time as the local tourism industry battles on.
“Anna Bligh, in a media release on 1 March 2009, specifically said and I quote ‘the terminal will be at least five times its current size with equipment for international bag screening and the runway will be expanded.’ Well, that is plainly not right,” fired Mr Costigan, who made another visit to the airport this week, checking on the latest construction work.
“The new terminal will not be five times the size of the old one and furthermore, I cannot see any expansion of the runway…none at all. If anything, that runway needs to be completely resurfaced, which would cost something in the vicinity of $10 million alone.
“Only last year, a Virgin Blue jet took off from Whitsunday Coast Airport and literally blew out a 30-metre patch of the runway…that’s how bad it is. People who know the aviation industry tell me the airport needs a lot more than a pretty new building and landscaped car park.”
Mr Costigan said the State Government had treated the local community with utter contempt.
“In that same media release two and a half years ago, Anna Bligh, desperate for Labor to hold onto Whitsunday, said this job would ‘be finished by the end of the year.’ Well, that was way back in 2009, an election year, and still we wait and wait and wait,” he said.
“At the time, the Labor Member for Whitsunday actually remarked ‘the Whitsunday area has been let down by its airport for far too long…we will get it sorted out.’ Well, it would appear Labor couldn’t organise a chook raffle and even if they did, it wouldn’t make a cent.
“The Whitsundays, which relies so much on tourism, has also been let down by its local Labor MP, who for more than 10 years, has done little for this community. Ms Jarratt only scored the Tourism Ministry after the Premier played pass-the-parcel back in February. They put her in the job because the seat is ultra-marginal and as a Minister, she gets more resources.”
Mr Costigan said if he became the LNP Member for Whitsunday, the tourism industry would be re-energised under the leadership of Campbell Newman – as Shadow Minister Jann Stuckey pointed out to key stakeholders on a visit to the area in July this year.
“As ‘Can Do’ Campbell has said, tourism is one of the four pillars of the state’s economy and here we have Whitsunday Coast Airport, so crucial to our local industry, in a holding pattern because of utter ineptness on the part of a tired and wasteful Labor Government,” he said.
“The Premier stated ‘we’ll get straight on with the job of delivering a short-term upgrade for the existing Whitsunday Coast Airport to make it suitable for international operations by some carriers’. Well, the only carriers likely to use it will be carrier pigeons.
“And with a carbon tax just around the corner, sponsored by Anna Bligh in her capacity as the National President of the ALP, that same party that Ms Jarratt belongs to, is it any wonder people around here are bracing themselves for tougher times to come.”