Chairman’s Report 2017
The past year has been very busy with Cyclone Debbie having a major impact on our region over the past 7 months.
There are always winners and losers from an event like this and while I sympathize with those who did not benefit from the cyclone, there is no doubt the region as a whole has advanced as a result of the cyclone. Trades, pubs, cafes, accommodation, etc have all been busy. With a $1B dollars’ worth of Insurance money and hundreds of millions dollars’ worth of government assistance in the regions, we have seen a step change in small business confidence. Collinsville has also seen a completed turnaround with extra work from the cyclone and the high influx of contractors associated with the solar farms being built.
Positive news with Adani getting closer to a start date and the ramping up of work at the port and also on the rail and mine site. In the last month we have seen the first soil turned on the rail project and with a couple hundred people working in the Townsville office now, it looks like the project is well and truly underway and will ramp early next year.
Also a big congratulation to QCoal on getting Byerwen up and running and first coal out of the ground. They have managed to do it the old BP way. “The quiet achiever.”
On a local front BCE have been working on the following projects
This has been a bumpy road and while we were promised the funds for the feasibility study over 12 months ago. It has been a long road getting a workable solution in place to complete this work. The first hurdle was the fact the Federal funds are paid after the work is completed so we needed someone to bank roll us to get the work underway. Dave Evans, Steve Darwin and Mayor Andrew Wilcock, ensured an excellent outcome in convincing the state Government to supply the funds up front however we have then had a lot of trouble getting a deed of assignment in place. BCE could not sign due to a clause in the deed which stated we would be accountable to pay back $1 Million dollars if the report was not acceptable and we could not agree to this. The negotiation with UPA also broke down after 6 months and IC and BCE could not agree to hand over the funds to UPA. In July this year, we notified the State Government we wished to go ahead with the deed with IC signing and being Project managers. BCE would continue to work under the Project Implementation plan with IC.
We have had numerous discussions with State Government and their preferred position is to hand the funds to Sunwater. With the State government Election being called, the project is on hold. Depending on the outcome of the Election, If LNP get over the line, Dale has promised BCE will be working with the new dam project team to deliver Urannah.
If LNP do not get over the line, George and the federal LNP are ready to give the $3M direct to BCE to complete the study.
BCE continue to take a lead role and represent stakeholders in discussions with TMR on two aspects of the Bowen Marina. The first issue was the damaged caused from the Cyclone and a requirement from TMR on getting a fix in place to make the marina a safe harbour. Currently there is a proposal to install 2 new rock walls to stop wave action. Estimated budget in $4M to complete this work. BCE is lobbying State government to get these funds to complete this work. LNP are making an announcement tomorrow with regard to this funding.
The second lot of work in the harbour is around the integrated development plan which was put together with stakeholders and TMR a couple of years ago. BCE have reconnected with TMR and will work with them and WRC on moving this plan forward.
The $20 000 funding from WRC and the $5 000 funding from DISP and $5000 from RDA which was ear marked for a feasibility study on a processing plant for the Bowen area, has been handed over the BGGA. BGGA are working with DAF on a proposal to move this project forward and it is anticipated they will make an announcement early next year. BCE will continue to monitor progress and revisit this project if there is no outcome from this process next year.
As chair of BCE, I have started assisting the Catalina group on moving forward the project. Major work on this project has been engaging Heather Norris to complete the business plan and also complete a grant application under cyclone Debbie tourism funding. We have requested a total of $380 000 under this grant and if we are successful, this will enable the plane to be relocated to Bowen. We have also received agreement from the WRC to bankroll us the $380 000 if we are successful in this grant as the grant money will only become available after we spend the funds.
Mick Boyce and Peter Taylor are continuing discussions with Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd (CFML) to agree terms for relocation of restored aircraft VH-CAT to Bowen.
Other fund raising projects are underway including raffles, sponsorship request and fund raising events.
LNP are making an announcement tomorrow on funding for this project as well.
BCE have started discussion with NQBP on the future of the Bowen Jetty. We have agreed to be part of a community group to work on a practical ongoing plan for the Jetty after NQBP remove the tugs from this area. NQBP wish to hand the asset over the community, however they recognise it needs to be repaired and a long term assets management plan needs to be in place so as not to hand over a liability.
Bowen and Collinsville Promotion
I would like thank the NQBP for coming on board and donation $30,000 to BCE to allow us to develop and run a campaign to promote Bowen and Collinsville. We used Tropical Exposure to develop a 15 seconds, 30 second and 1 minute video for our region. We are running the adverts across Channel 9 in Townsville and Mackay for the months of October and November with a total of 600 adverts. We are also running a social media medial campaign across the same region. Hopefully this extra exposure will fill our communities over the school holidays and bring extra funding to all our local businesses.
Funding from WRC.
This year we have set up a funding model with the WRC to help pay for administration cost of BCE. The WRC have agreed to fund us $12,000 per year to go towards insurance, secretarial and other administration cost associated with projects. In return, BCE will continue to offer support and expertise to the WRC on a variety of projects. BCE will also work closely with the WRC on delivering the economic plan for our region.
BCE Facebook Page.
We have set up a Facebook page for BCE to allow communication to the wider audience.
We have around 180 followers on this page and are just starting to post relevant updates. I encourage all members to like this page and share with your connections to help raise the profile of BCE.
Greater Whitsunday Region Economic Group (GW3)
I have taken on a role as director of GW3. GW3 is made up of the 3 councils, Mackay, Isaacs and Whitsundays. It is funded for three years by these three councillors and the concept is to be a larger voice for the larger region so we can compete with the likes of Townsville, Toowoomba etc. GW3 is an excellent resource that BCE can use to assist in lobbying all levels of government when required.
We held a meeting with Sunwater and discussed options of revisiting the water for Bowen Project. Sunwater has received funding under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF) feasibility program to examine options for increasing the use of water from the Burdekin Haughton Water Supply Scheme. The scope of work includes looking at possible extension of the scheme, and one of the logical options for further consideration is revisiting the Water for Bowen project.