Labor reveals international export plan for Rocky airport

UPDATE 4PM: MEMBER for Capricornia Michelle Landry has questioned how Labor MP Anthony Albanese can promise international status for Rockhampton Airport. 

Ms Landry said gaining international status for the local airport was something she had been working on for some time and was of the understanding it could not be achieved for around five years. 

"I have spoken in depths with Warren Truss about this," Ms Landry said. 

"We have to have the business case to support it. We have to have the economic viability.

"It's something I want to see happen but it's about making it happen. 

"You have to have a business plan."

Ms Landry said it came down to a 'desperate' Labor party making promises they couldn't fulfill.

"The Labor party was in Capricornia for 15 years before I came in. This has been on the books for 25 years, why are they only supporting it now," Ms Landry said. 

"To do this you need to have something to sell, you need to have tourism, that's GKI. 

"I don't think it's logical to rush in and say without anything to back it up and support it.

"The whole thing could collapse in six months and then we're back 10 years behind the eight ball. 

"There has to be an airtight case going in for what we will do there so it will actually make money."

While nothing was set in stone, on the other hand, Ms Landry said the recent $1 billion Shoalwater Bay announcement could go hand-in-hand with Rockhampton Airport upgrades. 

"Part of it is the issue with the Singapore Army, we could see the potential for upgrades to the Rocky Airport there," she said. 

EXCLUSIVE: SHADOW Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese has revealed Rockhampton will become an international export hub if the Labor Party gains power. 

The Labor MP, who has spent the past few days touring the Capricornia region, said international standard for Rockhampton Airport was an iron-clad Labor promise if they are elected on July 2, regardless of who wins the Capricornia seat. 

"It's something that Leisa Neaton raised with me very strongly as one of her priorities," Mr Albanese said. 

"Speaking to people from the agricultural sector up there over the weekend when I was there, they would be particularly keen.

"It has worked very effectively with the new Toowoomba airport, it's a plus for people in the Darling Downs.

"With the products that are there (CQ), particularly for agricultural products, direct export could make an enormous difference to the region and could be a growth sector."

Mr Albanese said there wouldn't be much work involved in upgrading the airport's standard, but the benefits would be endless. 

"The runway certainly and the airport infrastructure is acceptable for international now, so the amount of resources would be relatively small because the infrastructure is there," he said. 

"It would need some facilities because you've got to look at quarantine, and those issues of course are important once you have international airport status. 

"But it would make a huge difference to Central Queensland and it makes sense in terms of having the major port at Gladstone and the major airport at Rockhampton in terms of export capacities. 

"One of the tasks of infrastructure as Infrastructure Minister I would be very conscious of is how to maximize use of existing infrastructure and at the moment Rockhampton is under utilised. 

"With customs and quarantine facilites, and they wouldn't have to be there the whole time, it could add significantly and I'd ask Infrastructure Australia to do a cross-benefit analysis of it being granted international airport status and the possibility of direct exports from there which would drive the whole region."

Mr Albanese said the project would have significant job benefits for Rockhampton. 

"Increased employment firstly in the production side, in terms of agriculture production, but also in the logistics side right along the supply chain," he said. 

"I think there's significant potential for job creation and jobs to be developed if this could go ahead and that's why it is worthy of infrastructure Australia having a look at it. 

"I'd ask them to consider it immediately if we came into government. 

"We've already said we would provide Infrastructure Australia with increased resources and this is the sort of thing that we want to use Infrastructure Australia to actually boost usage of existing infrastructure as well as recommending new infrastructure. It's one of the things they have recommended as a priority. 

"In Australia quite often we don't take advantage of the most obvious and it's obvious there's an airport there, it's obvious there's an airport with enormous capacity and we should be utilising that to get the benefit."

Mr Albanese said Capricornia residents could consider the proposal a Labor promise. 

"I'll be the minister and I'll be asking Infrastructure Australia to examine this immediately and if it gets the tick then we'd be providing the resources which would be minimal, it's not a cost, it's an investment. 

"We make commitments on the basis of doing them. Obviously this is something Leisa Neaton has raised with me, has campaigned for and something she would be a strong advocate for for the region."

"For a relatively small outlay you'd get more than that as a return and if you had that direct export from Rockhampton. 

"The other thing you would have is, much of the freight task that is exported is things that are perishable goods but inevitably if there was a plane going you'd make sure it was full with other products as well. 

"I would see it as servicing the entire Central Queensland region effectively."



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