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Royalties program a con job, critics say

THE Queensland Government's Royalties for the Regions program is nothing more than a "smoke and mirrors con job", according to Rockhampton Labor MP Bill Byrne.

And Gladstone region councillor Leo Neill-Ballantine says he's got a point.

Mr Byrne said regional councils in central Queensland had missed out with the Newman government's implementation of the Royalties for the Regions program.

"It has failed to deliver on the LNP's key election promise to give Queensland's mining communities a fair share of income from the mining boom," he said.

"The vast majority of the funding has gone to regions where there is little or no impact from mining, in direct contradiction of the promises the LNP made before the 2012 election."

Cr Leo Neill-Ballantine is Gladstone Regional Council rural services portfolio spokesperson.

"From a local government perspective it's (the Gladstone region) missed out pretty badly," he said.

"One would have thought that given it's a priority port they'd be looking at upgrading the road infrastructure into Gladstone."

Cr Neill-Ballantine said rail freight was dominated by the resource sector, but agriculture and other industries needed improved road infrastructure if they're to help diversify Gladstone's economy.

"How's the port going to grow unless they look at things like this?"

He said upgrading rural roads so they could take road trains would benefit more than the agriculture industry.

"There's aluminium that goes to Gladstone on road trains, there's ammonium nitrate, not to mention grain and potentially cattle."

Gladstone independent MP Liz Cunningham said Gladstone ticked all the right boxes for funding under the program, but received nothing.

"I'm certainly concerned that as one of the communities in Queensland that has accommodated and has had to endure significant pressure from LNG growth, that Gladstone has been spectacularly unsuccessful in getting Royalties for Regions funding," she said.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney responded to Mr Byrne's attack on Monday.

"The Royalties for the Regions program didn't even exist under Labor, so it's rich of Mr Byrne to criticise a program that across its first three rounds has provided more than $306 million in funding direct to local councils to fund critical community infrastructure," he said.

The program was never designed as a "cash cow" for local councils, he said, and a further $200 million would be available in the latest round of funding.

Topics:  jeff seeney leo neill-ballantine liz cunningham politics royalties for regions



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