Mossman Mill funding causes governmental friction


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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A war of words has erupted between the Queensland State Government and a Federal Liberal MP over ‘promised’ $20m federal funding for the Mossman Mill.

In a strongly worded letter and in a media statement, the Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, challenged the Federal LNP Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, who promised $20 million for the day-to-day operations, like wages, to keep the Mossman Mill going.

“This followed our government’s $25 million agreement with local growers to establish a bio-precinct to protect and grow local jobs.

“Local State Member for Cook Cynthia Lui and I are greatly concerned by reports we have received that Mr Entsch and the newly elected Morrison Government are likely to renege on this deal, putting in jeopardy the jobs and livelihoods of the hardworking cane growers of Far North Queensland.

“A deal is a deal and a promise is a promise. When we make a promise we deliver it. We won’t be changing the deal we entered into with growers and nor should Mr Entsch. Mr Entsch and the LNP need to deliver on their promise today,” said Mr Dick.

In referring to Mr Dick’s comments as ‘nonsense’, Mr Entsch said he was disappointed by the course of events.

“The money has been signed off. I can assure you the contracts have been signed. The state government’s reaction smacks of sour grapes following the Federal election result,” said Mr Entsch.

In an interview with the ABC, Maryann Salvetti, Chair of Tableland Canegrowers and a Director of Far Northern Milling, confirmed today that the $20m from the Federal Government had been secured and signed off.

“I am pleased it’s in place. There are no issues. We will put in an invoice and we’ll get the funds,” she said.

Now the Federal Government has met their $20m commitment, the onus is now on the State Government to follow through on their promised $25m. However, there are murmurs they are being inflexible when it comes to what projects need to be performed.

Ms Salvetti said she was eager to meet with Mr Dick to resolve the issues involved.

“Cameron has been an advocate and helped us when things have been tight.

“I am now asking for all the parties to get together, discuss the key points and see how we can save 160 people keep their jobs, not see 300 businesses close, put 500 people out of work and the entire shire council threatened.”

Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said the Mossman Mill closure would be devastating.

“But I remain optimistic and I encourage everyone to work together to deliver this project for the benefit of Mossman and the Douglas Shire.

“Council invested $250,000 to help the Mossman Canegrowers and has worked closely with them to secure funding from both levels of government.

“I spoke to both Warren (Entsch) and Cynthia (Lui) yesterday and strongly urged them to resolve this as soon as possible for the sake of the growers, mill workers and the Mossman community,” said Mayor Leu.

Mayor Leu said the money has already been allocated, so with common sense and goodwill both levels of government should be bending over backwards to get this funding through.

“It is critical for our economy and everyone involved in our cane industry that both levels of government put aside the politics and work together to make this happen, as a matter of urgency.” 

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