With a newly announced state election looming in the balance, Katter’s Australian Party state leader Robbie Katter has voiced his support for the dredging of the Gulf catchment to allow operation and expansion of the Karumba Live Export.
Karumba Live Export relies on deep, annual dredging of the Gulf of Carpentaria catchment to continue its shipments and potential to expand, but due to annual wet seasons and the earth’s gravitation, sediment builds up in the Karumba catchment preventing vessels from entering.
Last year Mount Isa MP Robbie Katter delivered on $1.7 million state government funding for Port of Karumba and has thrown his support behind the dredging again and is determined to source an annual funding solution.
“We fought hard to get funds for dredging in this term of parliament. We were able to deliver because KAP holds influence in a minority government. I will be fighting to get the government to commit funding for annual dredging of the port. If KAP holds the balance of power after the next election we will get this delivered,” he said.
Mr Katter said finding a solution to the dredging was extremely important for north Queensland.
“The cattle trade and access to international markets is a great opportunity for the North of the State. This needs to be facilitated by the right infrastructure, particularly the port, but also other activities such as irrigation.
“The government needs to make a recurring allocation of funding for the dredging or we need new large users to come in to carry some of the expense.
“Both of these outcomes require the government to invest or deliver supportive policy outcomes. The best chance of that happening is if we hold the balance of power and neither major party has a majority.”
Mr Katter said current and previous operators had overlooked the port of Karumba.
“In my estimation around $30m in revenue was received from the Century Mine over the years and little was invested into the long term viability of the port. Not one dollar has been spent in dredging by Ports North since the closure of Century.
“The question then is where did that money go? I suspect it subsidised Cairns Port and other activities on the east coast.
“New Century appears to be coming along well. We’re working to ensure they contribute to the development of the port and ensure better access for all users.”
It is said that Ports North gains approx $3 per head from each beast shipped out of the Karumba Port.
Ports North have been asked to comment on: what the money was and continues to be spent on and if they would consider assisting in the dredging. Ports North have not replied.