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Minister quiet on Coast airport expansion loan

MEETING: Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien (L), Member for Fairfax Ted O'Brien, Senator Fiona Nash and Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace at Sunshine Coast Airport.
MEETING: Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien (L), Member for Fairfax Ted O'Brien, Senator Fiona Nash and Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace at Sunshine Coast Airport. Scott Sawyer

THE nation's regional development head, Senator Fiona Nash, has given no indication of when the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion will move forward.

Visiting the Sunshine Coast with Coalition MPs Andrew Wallace (Fisher), Ted O'Brien (Fairfax) and Llew O'Brien (Wide Bay), Sen Nash made no comment when asked how far away confirmation was of the Sunshine Coast Council's $181 million concessional loan application.

Sen Nash acknowledged the "enormous amount of human capital" on the Coast and the potential in the region that the Federal Government need to ensure by "investing in infrastructure, like the roads here in the region".

The Minister for Regional Development praised the efforts of the three Coast MPs in trying to progress the concessional loan.

"We're very encouraged by the level of conversation we've had so far," Sen Nash said.

"Clearly as the Government we understand the benefit that the expansion of this airport would bring to the region.

"Those talks are continuing and I'm hopeful that we will keep those moving forward."

The three Coalition MPs echoed the importance of the upgrade as well as number-one priority Bruce Hwy upgrades.

"Assets like the airport are key to the hinterland," Ted O'Brien said.

When asked whether the $170-odd million savings made in the design of the Caloundra Rd-Sunshine Mwy Bruce Hwy upgrade could cover the concessional loan Mr O'Brien said the two should be separated.

"I'm enormously optimistic about this concessional loan getting over the line but we've got to keep fighting for it, it's no foregone conclusion," he said.

"Council can't do this asset development alone, it needs help."

Llew O'Brien acknowledged the importance of the airport expansion to the Noosa and Wide Bay tourism and business sectors.

"All our economies are interwoven and reliant upon each other and certainly having a greater capacity here at the airport is important for the Sunshine Coast economy," he said.

The Sunshine Coast Council's second-stage of its search for an economic partner in the expansion wrapped up earlier this month. 

Topics:  development, federal government, federal politics, infrastructure, sunshine coast airport expansion, sunshine coast council


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