With just three weeks to go before election-day, Mayor Bill Ludwig is extending an official invitation on behalf of Livingstone ratepayers and the communities of Marlborough and Stanage Bay for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to visit Livingstone.
Mayor Ludwig says he wants the Prime Minister to make a commitment to addressing the grossly unfair Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) expansion plans.
“While the Federal Government continues to keep Livingstone Shire Council and the community in the dark as to the full extent of land acquisitions, property transfer data has revealed the SWBTA has now increased to almost 31% of Livingstone Shire’s total landmass,” Councillor Ludwig said.
“The massive Federal Government ‘land grab’, needed to accommodate the $1billion SWBTA expansion and additional Singaporean Army Exercises (SAF), will effectively leave Livingstone ratepayers facing major annual financial cost burdens for decades to come.
“The reality is the planned $1 billion expansion has also left a dark cloud over the future of both Stanage Bay and Marlborough townships as well as the huge financial body-blow to every ratepayer in the Shire and our region’s economy.
“While the great unknown now is how many more ‘behind closed doors’ acquisitions are still to come, what is clear is the likely on-going total annual loss of rates revenue from ADF occupying close to one third of our landmass will be well in excess of $2 million.
“Combined with projected beef industry economic losses of $35 million annually, resulting from the recent land acquisitions alone, it is a potentially dire situation for our community going forward.
“The bitter pill to swallow has been the Federal Government’s steadfast refusal to enter into meaningful discussions on the matter.
“Every Livingstone ratepayer and small townships of Marlborough and Stanage need to know how the Federal Government will compensate our community for the huge financial cost and long-term negative economic impacts of these massive land acquisitions.
“Despite the $1 billion SWBTA expansion expenditure and $2 billion road infrastructure fund announced in the recent budget, the current Federal Government has also refused to commit one single dollar to addressing pressing road safety upgrade issues.
“If Livingstone ratepayers and these townships cannot get a commitment from Prime Minister Morrison the only hope of getting a ‘fair go’ may be through a change of Government.
“So far Labor is the only side of politics that has genuinely listened making a $21.6 million commitment to road sealing upgrades and creating economic development opportunities for the Stanage Bay community.
“It is simply untenable for any Federal Government to continue asking ratepayers of a Shire the size of Livingstone to effectively subsidise ADF, Singaporean and major international army training exercises on the scale we are now seeing,” Cr Ludwig said.