Blumel to battle for airport funds

She admits it is “a long shot”.

She admits that with federal and state governments selling off their airports, a funding submission from a regional council to the federal government to upgrade its airport would not, ordinarily, stand much chance of success.

But these are not ordinary times, according to Sunshine Coast council’s major projects infrastructure portfolio chair Debbie Blumel.

Ms Blumel this week announced the council’s $250 million submission to the $20 billion Infrastructure Australia fund to redevelop Sunshine Coast Airport.

She said one of the federal government’s strategies to minimise the impact of the global financial crisis was to invest in infrastructure projects that not only created work during the construction period but generated productivity increases in the longer term.

“The key aim (of the submission) has been to emphasise how the airport project meets the government’s objectives for how their infrastructure funds should be spent,” the councillor said.

“The airport project has potential to add to Australia’s productive capacity by attracting the establishment of a cluster of aviation-related industries from other Pacific Rim regions and generating quality jobs in sound industries which are robust during times of economic downturn.”

The airport project was expected to stimulate companion investment of $500 million, support the equivalent of 6000 jobs during its development and increase employment to 2300 permanent jobs on completion.

Ms Blumel said the development of a new, 2450m by 45m east-west runway with apron, taxiways, terminal and infrastructure was very important to people who lived locally.

“The airport project will create sustainable long-term benefits for the community, the environment and the economy while greatly enhancing safety for residents, passengers and aircraft operators and reducing aircraft noise in local communities,” she said.

If the submission was not successful the council would at least gain a clearer understanding of the path it must then travel in terms of alternative corporate governance structures and funding models.

“Yes, it’s a long shot to ask for $250 million, but it is perfectly aimed at the funding criteria,” the former state and federal ALP candidate said.

“As you would expect, I will be following up with some targeted lobbying.”

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