TWENTY-FOUR rural Queensland airstrips will be upgraded at a cost of $2.7 million under the federal government’s Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme.
Funding approval for Mornington Island, Blackall, Barcaldine, St George, Bollon, Taroom, Richmond, Hughenden, Coen, Bramwell, Karumba, Chillagoe, Palm Island, and 11 Torres Strait Island airstrips form part of almost $11.7m announced today by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss.
- Scroll down to see how the funds were allocated
Northern Territory got the lion’s share of the funding pool, reaping $3.8m for 12 airstrips; Western Australia also received $3.1m for seven sites; while the remaining $2m was distributed between South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania.
Mr Truss said the funding for the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme was part of $33.7m announced by the government in the 2015-16 budget for remote airstrips to be spent over four years.
“While not appreciated in the cities, local airstrips are vital in the delivery of essential goods and services to remote communities, including medical care. They also better connect remote communities with each other,” Mr Truss said.
“With such vast distances spanning our continent, safe and functioning remote airstrips are often the only reliable means of transport for people living in our most isolated areas.
“Given smaller aircraft often service these communities, simple measures such as providing a smooth runway or keeping wildlife away can make all the difference in a safe landing.”
Funds a win for medical and employment say Mayors
BARCALDINE Regional Council will receive 273,750 for a full lighting upgrade in the shire’s main airstrip at Barcaldine.
The shire, which encompasses five townships, has QantasLink services running to and from Brisbane three days per week from the Barcaldine strip, along with private use.
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler said the funding was very welcome, particularly for safety around medical services using the amenities at night.
“It’s super important to make sure it is absolutely safe…That is our link with all those services that we’re looking for,” Mr Chandler said.
“They are very expensive things to look after.
“Ours is owned by council, run by council, and every little bit of money helps the rate payers’ purse.”
BLACKALL-TAMBO Regional Council Mayor Barry Muir was delighted when Queensland Country Life gave him the news the shire was to receive 229,375 for the repair and restoration of the pavement airstrip at the Blackall aerodrome.
The shire has just opened tenders for a new terminal to be constructed, which the council recently received almost half a million dollars from the Royalties for Regions program, on the back of grants approved for improvements to the refuelling facilities and parking lot.
Mr Muir said the ongoing maintenance for a shire with two sealed airstrips and a population under 2,400 people meant they relied upon receiving grants to maintain optimal standards.
“For any airport in a small western town I’d say it is vitally important,” Mr Muir said.
“With all of the work and grants and stuff we’ve gotten over subsequent years it’s helped us to have a first class facility at Blackall - we’re mindful of that.”
Work is scheduled to start on the new terminal in February.
TAROOM employment opportunities will be spurred on by today’s funding approval, according to Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige.
Under the funding announced today, the council will receive $124,285 to upgrade the animal proof fence at Taroom airstrip.
“It’s a great boost to us and particularly in times like we have at the moment,” Mr Carige said.
“It’ll also in some way create employment for our own people. This is another chance for that.”
Mr Carige said council was currently negotiating with gas company QGC to increase their use of the Taroom airport to fly workers in and out of the region.
“It’s becoming an integral part of the infrastructure in our shire,” he said.
“We’re in the process of upgrading the airport…the fencing is just another part that goes with the upgrade.”
Qld funding winners:
- Richmond - $42,500
- Blackall - $229,375
- Karumba - $85,654
- St George - $42,500
- Bollon - $20,000
- Barcaldine - $273,750
- Hughenden - $86,052
- Bramwell - $24,000
- Coen - $25,000
- Taroom - $124,285
- Torres Strait (11 airstrips) - $375,000
- Palm Island - $392,000
- Chillagoe - $160,000
- Mornington Island - $837,000