Bundaberg’s billion dollar budget

Treasurer Cameron Dick, Bundaberg MP Tom Smith and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: FILE

By Aaron Goodwin

A $1.2 billion commitment for a new Bundaberg Hospital, $10 million for Isis Highways upgrades and $19.6 million to replace an ageing powerline are among the Bundaberg region’s highlights in the 2022-23 State Budget.

Handed down by Treasurer Cameron Dick on 21 June, $20 million has been allocated this financial year for early works on the new hospital at Kay McDuff Drive, with the state Opposition still sceptical about level 5 services being delivered.

There’s $15 million in 2022-23 for work at the Port of Bundaberg, including $9.3 million for the Port of Bundaberg conveyor project, $4.7 million for wharf redevelopment and $1.0 million for tug facility upgrades.

The conveyor is part of the Hinkler Regional Deal.

$19.6 million has been allocated to continue the replacement of the ageing 66 kilovolt powerline between Childers and Gayndah, as well as $4.8 million to refurbish the East Bundaberg Substation.

For the Paradise dam rebuild, Sunwater is currently progressing $97 million in design, planning and early works for the project, with $30.1 million to be spent in 2022–23.

Bundaberg MP Tom Smith called it the billion dollar Bundy budget.

”We’re also seeing $8 million across our Bundy schools, invested in our young people, teachers and families so we can provide the best education on offer for young people in our community,” Mr Smith said.

”It’s ensuring our young people have the opportunity to do the best they can and stay in Bundaberg, that’s what we really want to see.

”I’m very excited to see further works along Isis Highway.

”That’s a $41 million project in total and there’s a further $10 million this year to expand that out, along with works along Goodwood Road and our schools as well.”

Both Burnett MP Stephen Bennett and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt are disappointed that new business taxes have been introduced, despite the Treasurer promising no new or increased taxes during the 2020 election.

”Unfortunately we now know our small businesses will pay,” Mr Bennett said.

”The Treasurer promised 26 times there would be no new or increased taxes.

”Sadly, we didn’t see any real attention to detail about rising electricity prices and the cost of living.

”Our biggest fears have been realised; there’s no real investment in health, roads, water infrastructure and housing across Bundaberg and the Burnett in the 2022/23 State Budget.”

Mr Pitt said while the State Budget finally had a financial commitment to the new Bundaberg Hospital, the State Government has regurgitated funding announcements, for example the $103 million upgrade on the Bruce Highway at Saltwater Creek that is already underway.

“Initiatives at the Port of Bundaberg listed includes the multi-use conveyor which has been funded 100 percent by the Federal Government, the State has not contributed to it at all,” Mr Pitt said.

“Only $30.1 million has been allocated in the coming financial year for early works to restore Paradise Dam, so just how long will it take to bring the dam back to its full capacity?

“A $44 million upgrade at the intersection of Maryborough-Hervey Bay Road and Pialba-Burrum Heads Road was announced in May 2021, yet the State Government has only allocated $2.7 million in 2022-23 to this project.

“The Federal Government has its share of funding ready to go but the State Government is not prioritising this project.

“The State Government needs to do more than just announce funding, they need to start building the new hospital, roads and restore Paradise Dam.”

There’s also $750,000 in 2022-23 out of a $4.6 million total spend for the replacements of the high voltage and air conditioning system and chiller at the Bundaberg Base Hospital.

$2.7 million in 2022-23 out of a $3.4 million total spend for a new Agriculture and Horticulture Centre at Bundaberg TAFE.

$925,000 in 2022-23 out of a $1 million total spend to build a new maker space centre at Bundaberg TAFE.

$1.2 million in 2022-23 out of a $2.5 million total spend to upgrade the administration building at Gin Gin State High School