28 June, 2022
Community to benefit from regional projects
A MYRIAD of projects costing millions of dollars that will deliver health, education and community projects across the Tablelands were funded as part of the State Budget released last week.
In Mareeba, the Department of Agricultural and Fisheries research facility attracted $2.5 million out of a $3.4 million total spend to upgrade fruit handling laboratories at the centre, enabling scientists to provide research services to the expanding and new horticultural industries around Mareeba.
Originally constructed in 1979, the facility offers state of the art laboratories, including pathology, entomology and microbiology laboratories, glass and shade houses, cold rooms, specialised work areas, and office accommodation for up to 60 staff.
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said $3 million had been committed to creating overtaking lanes between Mareeba and Ravenshoe, while Mareeba State Primary and State High schools had been allocated more than $1 million to upgrade security.
Mareeba Hospital will also get $800,000 for upgrades to its mechanical and electrical systems, and $3.5 million has been committed to the progressive sealing of the Burke Development Road (Normanton to Dimbulah section).
Malanda State High School attracted $7 million to go towards the construction of a $11.5 million state of- the-art building which will boost student capacity.
The school has experienced significant growth over the past few years and has been at capacity since 2018, only been accepting students from within its catchment until more classrooms can be built.
“It is probably the first significant building that will be built here in many, many years,” Principal Gary Toshach told The Express late last year.
“What this means for us is that it gives us space, it gives us room to have more classes and more kids in the school – it also gives us absolute state of the art facilities, home economics and hospitality facilities.”
Construction for this new facility is expected to begin this year so the facility will be ready for use in 2023.
The Budget also confirmed a commitment by the State for $1.9 million to go towards a new $4.1 million neighbourhood and community centre at Atherton.
The Federal Government committed $2.2 million in October last year.
But the money has been a long time coming and, according to Better Together CEO John Russell, the building is now going to cost more than the funds that have been allocated.
“We now find that the original design is not fitting into the budget so we are looking at reducing some of the elements,” Mr Russell said.
“Costs have gone up by 35 per cent in the past 12 months and every month that goes by, they go up another one per cent.”
The long-awaited centre will be built on land next to the Atherton Library, thanks to a peppercorn lease arrangement with Tablelands Regional Council.
Better Together will relocate to the building when it is completed, hopefully by mid next year.
Tenders for the construction are expected to be released in August.
The Budget also allocated $12.2 million out of a total spend of $74.8 million to complete the redevelopment of the Atherton Hospital, and $9 million for road safety enhancement works to the Kennedy Highway between Cairns and Mareeba.
Around the broader region, $1.1 million funding was also committed for two splash parks at Mossman and Port Douglas as well as $9.4 million to progress the Wangetti Trail which promises to be a big lure for visitation.
On the Cape and in the Gulf, $1.3 million was committed to the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program, with an emphasis on engaging Aurukun youth to join the program, $225,000 for the Kowanyama Visitor Camping and Tours pilot, $286,000 for a tourist centre and sculpture park to promote Cape York businesses and organisations, and $25.3 million towards a bridge at Archer River Crossing on the Peninsula Development Road between Coen and Weipa.