Warren Entsch came into Black Star studio this morning to provide the Government’s position on three key issues in our region during the Federal Election.
On the “Cairns City Deal” Mr Entsch made it clear, that the hold-up rested with the Cairns City Council not completing the application in time.
Mr Entsch said the Cairn’s application was lodged “Five minutes before the election.” In contrast, Darwin had lodged their application on time and as a result had been approved.
The concept also had the support of Michael Healey, the local State Government Labor member.
Warren Entsch stressed that “Cairns will get a City Deal,” but was concerned also that the new Gallery Precinct did not take away business from the already established Indigenous Art collectives Umi Arts, Tjapukai and KickArts. and the Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair.
Commenting on Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s flying visit to Cairns, where he announced Labor’s renewable energy plan for Northern Australia, Mr Entsch put the counter position that “they were already doing it” in places like Lakeland Downs, which is a base load solar project with back up battery power, at Wujul Wujul on the Bloomfield River with a Hydro Power Unit, and at the Kidson Solar Power Farm.
He described these projects as Micro Grids that will reduce power costs. He encourages the State Government to “open the gates” to the “poles and wires of Ergon Energy” to give better access to the power supply industry.
Responding to Labors $200 Million housing infrastructure commitment and the promise of a new ten-year funding plan for Indigenous housing in remote regions Warren Entch was quick to point out that he had acted quickly. Last week when Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion was in town that, Warren pushed hard for funds to complete the current housing agreement and the Minister had approved a further $105 million.
The current Government’s position on housing is that it is better to fund directly into the Councils and have Councils determine what the housing needs are. He said that future funding would be under-pinned by a population projection over the next 5-10 years.
He said that obviously some councils are satisfied with that proposition and what prompted the deal was a Mayoral support letter signed by Eddie Newman, Mayor of the NPA Council.
Listen to our interview with Warren Entsch here: