‘Nothing’s changed’: Wagner says $175m precinct still on track
Businessman John Wagner says he has been unmoved by reports the Federal Government will refuse to provide $40m in funding to his planned entertainment precinct west of Toowoomba.
Wagner Corporation announced its $175m Wellcamp Entertainment Precinct (WEP) in October last year, having secured $40m of conditional funding from the State Government.
But The Courier-Mail reported on Sunday that Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack had penned a letter to Wagner Corporation, saying there were “currently no programs open” to provide the funding.
Wagner Corporation says the funding is required to get the project off the ground.
This is despite Mr McCormack indicating support for the project in November.
In response to the news, Mr Wagner told The Chronicle he had not received any letter and expressed doubts that it existed.
He said his level of hope for the project’s success had not changed.
“It’s just a storm in a teacup,” Mr Wagner said.
“Hopefully they’ll approve it in due course, but it’s up to them.
“Nothing has changed in my view as to the progress on the project.”
Speaking in Cairns, Mr McCormack said he had not spoken with the company and had not ruled out the project.
“We haven’t said that we’re not funding it; we’re just not funding it right at this point in time,” he said.
“It’s a good project — I understand that it’s going to create jobs. But it comes with a very, very big cheque required as well.
“I’m happy to have those continuing discussions with the Wagners.”
Groom MP Garth Hamilton also appeared to back down in his support for the project, saying there were more pressing funding priorities.
“This is an exciting project for our region and while I do like the concept, my priorities are securing funding for roads and water infrastructure in our region,” he said.
“A significant investment of state and federal funds could see council wish list items like a second road to Highfields become reality, servicing a huge growth area for our community.
“Effectively spending public money is a huge responsibility and one I take very seriously.”
While he was muted with his stance on the project, Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said the proposed precinct could be a major economic driver if approved.
“There’s no doubt the proposed Wellcamp Entertainment Precinct would further boost our economy through the creation of jobs and increased tourism,” he said.
“It’s important we continue to advocate for our fair share of funding to achieve our community goals and ambitions.”
Originally published as ‘Nothing’s changed’: Wagner says $175m precinct still on track