Huaghton Pipeline funding gets fast tracked
TOWNSVILLE City Council will no longer have to borrow millions of dollars to build the first stage of the Haughton pipeline on time after the State Government fast-tracked funds.
The government will today announce it has brought forward funding for Stage 1 of the Haughton Pipeline Duplication as part of its mid-year fiscal and economic review.
As part of the upcoming review, the Government is expected to revise its projected revenue following an increase in mining royalties.
The Government previously spread its $225 million commitment to the council's three-point water security solution, including Stage 1 of the pipeline, across four years.
The council received $10 million in the 2017-18 state budget and $15 million in 2018-19, with the remaining funds due to be paid over the next two financial years.
However the council set itself a timeline to complete Stage 1 by the end of 2019 - 18-months ahead of the payment plan.
To cover the temporary cash shortfall the council arranged to borrow more than $130 million through a working capital facility administered by Queensland Treasury.
The interest payment for the loan was estimated to be about $2 million for 2018-19.
But the capital facility will no longer be necessary as the Government will boost the 2018-19 budget allocation to $160 million.
A further $55 million will be provided in 2019-20.
Thurwingowa MP Aaron Harper said bringing the funding forward was a "great big Christmas present" for Townsville.
"It's no doubt helped by the surplus in the budget and as a result we can ensure ratepayers money is not being spent on interest payments," he said.
"It means certainty for the community and businesses to come along and invest in the city, it creates local jobs and will continue to boost the economy."
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the people of Townsville could be confident their water was secure to at least 2030.
"We took it to the Minister that we needed to accelerate this money to make sure Townsville had water security immediately," he said.
"When Townsville City Council picked up the ball and ran with it, we continued to push hard and make sure they got the funding.
"The argument about whether ratepayers would have to pay for interest on a loan becomes null and void."
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill thanked the Government for bringing funding forward.
"Securing this funding will save ratepayers and allows Council to better plan for upcoming infrastructure projects," she said.
"Council is totally committed to delivering the pipeline by December next year, to provide our community with water security."