Safe Harbour Update

Safe Harbour Update image

27th October 2022 Update 

On Monday 24 October 2022 I received a letter from the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts.

I provide the letter below in its entirety for the Communities’ information and have underlined the good news in the third and fifth lines for ease of reference. I’m sure you will all agree that this is a good outcome for the Community. More information will be provided regarding the timing of the project as it unfolds.

“Dear Mr Groves,

I am writing to you regarding the Community Development Grants (CDG) program commitments made by the former Australian Government. Your organisation has been identified as having a commitment made under this program which is not yet contracted.

The Australian Government has decided to close the CDG program in line with the broader redesign of regional grant programs announced today. The Government has retained sufficient funds to honour any uncontracted CDG commitments provided that projects are contracted within six months and can be fully delivered by 30 June 2026.

I am pleased to advise that the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the Department) has been tasked with assessing your project (Safer Harbour) and finalising an executed funding agreement within the next six months.

Please note, if you are unable to execute a funding agreement by 28 April 2023, or if your project cannot be completed by 30 June 2026, this commitment will be withdrawn. If relevant, you will be notified of this withdrawal in writing.

We look forward to working with you to deliver your project for the benefit of your local community. To enable us to progress the assessment of your project, we will be contacting you by telephone and/or email to discuss the next steps in your assessment process, in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I strongly recommend your organisation does not enter into financial commitments or begin construction work on your project until you execute a funding agreement with the Department, as any expenditure incurred prior to executing an agreement may not be eligible for reimbursement.”

 

October 2022 Update

The initial funding commitment made by the Liberal Federal Government to the Safe Harbour project was $4.8 million. This was a commitment only – Council was required to submit a grant application to receive the funding. As yet, no money has been received for the Safe Harbour project.

The amount required by Council to complete the Safe Harbour project according to the initial concept plan was significantly greater than $4.8 million. In addition, Council was short $1.8 million of the $3.6 million required to complete the Whitemark airport long runway expansion.

As Flinders Island relies on the airport as its primary access point for the transportation of both passengers and freight, it was determined to be the most important project to undertake. As a direct result, Council successfully petitioned the Federal Government in the second half of 2019 to transfer $1.8 million from the Safe Harbour commitment of funds to the Runway Improvement project. This allowed the essential runway modification to be completed without requiring additional funding from Council.

Council was granted permission by the Federal Government to apply for the remaining $3 million of the original funding commitment, to be used to design and construct a modified version of the Safe Harbour.  When permission was given for this, it was considered a new project, and the grant application contained more stringent requirements. To meet these conditions, Council was required to undertake a substantial amount of additional work and incur substantial additional costs. In June 2021, this work was completed and the grant application for funding was submitted.

Since then, Council has maintained regular contact with the department handling the grant application to track progress. To date, Council has not been advised of the outcome of the grant application and has not received any grant money. The most recent advice is that the Labor Government has halted all previous Government funding commitments until they can be evaluated against an undeveloped policy regarding previous Government funding commitments.

Warren Groves
General Manager

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