June 3, 2014
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann will be “knocking on the State Government’s door” ASAP after the news that $3.5 million has been earmarked for recreational rail trails in the 2014-15 State Budget.
The money will be allocated over the next four years and will be open to applications.
The Budget papers say the funding “has been internally reallocated to increase active recreation and tourist visitation by extending and enhancing Queensland’s network of recreational rail trails for walkers, cyclists and horse riders”.
The South Burnett had been promised $546,234 to develop a rail trail between Murgon and Kingaroy in the dying days of the Rudd Federal Government.
At the time, the South Burnett Regional Council was assured by then-Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon that funding was not reliant on the outcome of the Federal Election.
However, shortly after gaining power, the incoming Abbott Coalition Government announced there was no money available to finance many of the Labor Party’s projects, which were seen as unfunded election promises.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said today she would be urging the South Burnett Regional Council to apply for the new State Government funding.
She believed Somerset Council would also be interested in the scheme.
The Member for Callide, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, is also believed to be keen for the former Murgon to Theebine rail corridor to be developed as a trail.
Mayor Kratzmann said the rail trail program was good news, but he was also thrilled that Kingaroy would be getting a new police station.
And although disappointed, he understood why Kingaroy Hospital had missed out this time: “It’s a big State and the money has to be shared … we got a police station, we probably couldn’t expect to get both in the same Budget”.
Funding for 20 more country race meetings across the State – which would be allocated by Racing Queensland – was also good news.
Mayor Kratzmann, who is also president of the South Burnett Race Club, said Wondai would probably seek another meeting, and he expected Nanango Race Club may also be interested.
He said the news that various State Government assets had been earmarked for sale after the next election was “fair enough”.
“We knew it was coming,” he said.
He said there would be implications with the sale of Stanwell and parts of SunWater but it would be wrong to pre-judge the possible effects at this stage.
However, the one thing that does have the Mayor worried from the State Budget is the 15 per cent reduction of the Pensioner Concession Rebate on rates.
He said this would mean that the $200 rebate that pensioners currently received on their rates notices would be cut back to $170.
“It’s very disappointing. I understand that it’s coming from the Federal Government and has just been passed on, but things are tough enough without having a shot at the poor old pensioners,” Mayor Kratzmann said.
He said he would be raising the issue with both Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Queensland Local Government Minister David Crisafulli.