Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan announced a $250,000 commitment to rebuilding the Wilson Beach enclosure.
Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan announced a $250,000 commitment to rebuilding the Wilson Beach enclosure.

Costo and council butt heads over Wilson Beach

WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has announced it is calling for tenders for the Wilson Beach swimming enclosure, denying claims made by the Member for Whitsunday that council “missed the boat” on the project.

Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan this week criticised the council’s response to fixing the Wilson Beach enclosure that was damaged by Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

Mr Costigan announced a commitment to rebuilding swimming enclosures at Wilson Beach under his party’s $1 billion Building the North program, which hinges on securing the balance of power in the upcoming state election.

If successful, Mr Costigan said he would give the Whitsunday Regional Council $250,000 to rebuild the enclosure.

Mr Costigan questioned why the Whitsunday Regional Council did not rebuild the enclosure with disaster recovery funding.

“Unfortunately, the Whitsunday Regional Council missed the boat on this project,” Mr Costigan said.

“In fact, metaphorically speaking, they didn’t even get to the jetty for its departure and now the council elections have come and gone, they’ve no interest in it whatsoever.”

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan this week announced a $250,000 commitment to rebuilding the Wilson Beach swimming enclosure.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan this week announced a $250,000 commitment to rebuilding the Wilson Beach swimming enclosure.

However, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the rebuilding of the enclosure was not eligible for funding.

“The Member for Whitsunday’s claim that the Wilson Beach swim enclosure could have been rebuilt using disaster recovery funding is yet another incorrect statement by the Member for Whitsunday,” he said.

“The swimming enclosure, badly damaged by Cyclone Debbie, is ineligible for NDRRA financial assistance as recreational or community assets simply do not qualify for disaster funding.

“As the enclosure was a community-built asset when damaged, council has since been working through the process of applying for the necessary permits and building approvals from Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).

“Our deputy mayor and Division 3 councillor John Collins moved a notice of motion last year that once approvals are ticked off, council would seek grant funding from federal and state governments for construction of a crocodile and stinger resistant swimming enclosure.

“Council officers received all approvals earlier this year and the Operational Works permit was issued on February 6 and a building permit was issued on April 30.

“Council will now call for tenders so we know what funding assistance is required to repair and upgrade the existing structure.”

Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox said council were calling for tenders for the Wilson Beach swimming enclosure. Picture: Jordan Gilliland
Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox said council were calling for tenders for the Wilson Beach swimming enclosure. Picture: Jordan Gilliland

Mr Costigan yesterday said this “didn’t wash” with him.

“They can spin whatever they want, they’re just not interested,” he said.

“Cyclone Debbie was three years ago plus two months. They had an ample amount of time, they’re just not interested in Wilson Beach.

“I’m proud to make a commitment to Wilson Beach to get the job done.”

As part of Mr Costigan’s announcement this week, he also pledged $750,000 to rebuild the swimming enclosure at Bucasia.

He said funding for the $1 billion Building the North program would be part of his $6 billion Real Royalties for Regions program, which will be paid for by royalties from the resources sector and aimed at delivering job-creating projects specifically in North, Far North and Central Queensland in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we look to rebuild our economy after COVID-19, we need a commitment to projects that include a focus on the health and safety of locals and tourists alike,” he said.