Call for Federal Government to cut KI airport debt burden
Local candidate for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has called on the Federal Government to ease the crushing financial burden facing the Kangaroo Island community by covering $1.25 million of a $3 million overspend on the island’s upgraded airport.
Rebekha has written to the Federal Infrastructure Transport Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and spoken to him personally to request that the Government cover at least 40 per cent of the overspend on the $21 million project which was co-funded by the Federal and State Governments.
“Thanks to a State Government-approved contractor going bust eight weeks after winning their airport contract, the Kangaroo Island ratepayers could be lumbered with repaying nearly two thirds of the cost of the overspend,” Rebekha said.
“Given the island only has a population of 4,700 people, this would have a devastating effect on the finances of this community.
“A $3 million bill is the equivalent of two years of the council’s net annual capital works program.
“Even if the council is able to increase rates significantly to cover the debt (and this is by no means certain under the State Government’s rate capping campaign), big rate increases would only add more pressure on Islanders who already face increased costs for goods and transport due to the gap of water between them and the mainland.
“The Deputy Prime Minister was sympathetic to the plight of the island community when I explained on the phone personally how the overspend came about so I am hopeful that the Federal Government will chip in another $1.25 million to the $9 million they have already contributed to this important project.”
The council has committed to paying $500,000 towards the debt and the State Government has offered $1.25 million.
“The State Government's contribution is something but still not enough given it was inadequate checking processes within the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) that contributed to this situation in the first place,” Rebekha said.
“It was DPTI that insisted that only State Government pre-qualified contractors were approached during the tender process and unfortunately later investigations found that there was no requirement for DPTI to do any further checks on contractors once they attained departmental approval.
“The debt is the direct result of the material crushing contractor going into voluntary liquidation eight weeks after being awarded the contract for the airport work, but the community of Kangaroo Island shouldn’t be left to bear a disproportional amount of the overspend.”
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