Tony Perrett says Gympie Regional Council should stop keeping ratepayers in the dark on the controversial project's cost.
Tony Perrett says Gympie Regional Council should stop keeping ratepayers in the dark on the controversial project's cost. John McCutcheon

'Reveal the Rattler cost now' Perrett demands

RESIDENTS should be told immediately what the new Rattler blowout will be and not be left in the dark, according to Gympie MP Tony Perrett.

With a return date of early March set, Gympie Regional Council should be able to tell ratepayers what the expected new cost of the delay will be.

"With a revised timeline they presumably now know what work is needed to be completed and the cost. It just beggars belief that there would not have also been a revision of the estimated cost," he said.

A project with so much tax-and-ratepayer money required transparency and careful auditing, not platitudes, especially given reports the final costs could reach $20 million.

"Just telling us that everything is fine, nothing to see here, is treating Gympie ratepayers and Queensland taxpayers with contempt," he said.

"It cannot be airbrushed away."

While he had supported the project, the blowouts and risk of ongoing liability to Gympie ratepayers and Queensland taxpayers was troubling.

"Given that, under the Works for Queensland guidelines, the State Government funding was reliant on the completion of the project by the end of November, and we know that the Rattler is not up and running - what was the actual project that the State Government funded?

"Was it only partial track restoration, and nothing else, which seems rather ridiculous?"

Ratepayers also deserved to know what funding stream would be used.

"There are only four ways they can be funded either from dipping into reserves, cutting other projects, reduction in services, or increased rates.

"And a good rule of thumb is that a 1 per cent increase in annual rates delivers $300,000 meaning a $3 million blow out would require a 10 per cent rate increase. It could be spread over a number of years, but just how many years will we be paying for this?"

A council spokeswoman said negotiations were still under way over the work, as reinspections were not finished. A decision on the extra work would be made by the end of the year.

"The matter will be to council before Christmas. Council undertakes budget reviews and often re-adjusts its capital works program to deal with changes in capital projects," she said.

Gympie Times


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