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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    The Honourable Andrew Fraser

    Health dollars for Cairns, Mackay and Mt Isa as Airport Sale Bill passes Parliament

    The Honourable Andrew Fraser

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Health dollars for Cairns, Mackay and Mt Isa as Airport Sale Bill passes Parliament

    Major expansions and redevelopments of the Cairns, Mackay and Mount Isa hospitals are one step closer today after airport lease and sale legislation was passed in State Parliament.

    Treasurer Andrew Fraser said the Airports Assets (Restructuring and Disposal) Bill would enable the Government to lease Cairns and Mackay airports and sell its remaining interest in Brisbane Airport.

    Mr Fraser said the proceeds would be used to expand and redevelop Cairns Base Hospital, purchase a site for a future Cairns hospital, construct a new Mackay Base Hospital and redevelop Mount Isa Hospital. Any surplus will be retained for future investment in the region.

    “One hundred percent of the funds raised will be used for the hospital expansions and redevelopments and for future regional infrastructure,” Mr Fraser said.

    “We are investing in the frontline services needed for growing Queensland communities in these important regional cities.

    “The Government is divesting its interest from airports — we want to focus on building hospitals and not airport management.

    “In addition the government has already authorised the funding to commence work on the Mackay Hospital from this year’s Budget so that we’re not waiting for the transaction to be completed.”

    Mr Fraser said the Government had structured a lease and sale process which strikes the right balance.

    Despite suggestions the role of local government will be diminished, Mr Fraser said the Bill in fact increases their role in planning and assessment of developments at the sites, allowing for councils to charge rates and infrastructure charges from the new owners.

    “We are providing a planning regime that provides continuity for buyers and also introduces a State-based approval system that includes local governments in a substantial way for the first time.”

    The Bill establishes a planning regime which will apply to the private sector operators of the airport businesses. Key points of the legislation include:

    • The proposed lease structure for Cairns and Mackay airports will maintain Government ownership over the airport land and infrastructure. The State Government will retain planning control over future airport development
    • Local governments and their communities will be consulted about future airport developments
    • The new operators will be required to contribute to local government infrastructure costs associated with airport development

    Mr Fraser said the airport assets were attractive to investors and the sale had generated substantial interest.

    The transactions process is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.

    Media Contact Chris Taylor 0419 710 874