Safe Harbour Update
19th May 2023 Update
There have been some recent positive developments with the Safe Harbour project and I thought it timely to update the community on where the project is at.
Funding of the $3.6M project was secured on 27 April 2023 when Council received a signed and executed copy of the grant deed from the funding body.
The funding has been provided to Council on the basis that the funding body assessed the submitted project as meeting the requirements of the original Government funding commitment. Council has not received any money from the funding body as yet.
The grant deed has a staged payment schedule and payments are only made on proof of achieving specified milestones. The project is due for completion by 20 March 2025.
As far as further funding opportunities to extend the rock wall, I have had relatively positive ongoing discussions with both Minister Ferguson’s Office and TasPorts.
Council will now be considering how to progress the construction phase of this project at the May Council meeting.
I will provide further updates as the project progresses.
Mayors Update February 2023
There has been some chatter over the last few weeks about the Safe Harbour project. I would like to clear up a few bits of misinformation floating around the community.
1. Design plans have been viewed and discussed by Councillors on a number of occasions, including the lead up to the submission of the grant application, and during the tender process for parts of the project. Council are still investigating some funding opportunities, so the design may change.
2. Council does not already have the money for the project. An election promise was made in March of 2019 by Steve Martin. Council then had to undertake considerable work to ensure we met the grant criteria. COVID-19 unfortunately impacted on this and it wasn’t until June of 2021 that we were able to submit the grant. Council was notified in October 2022 that our Community Development Grant had been approved (16 months after submission). Council is still in the process of finalising the deed for this grant.
3. The project was not shovel-ready. Council has had to undertake further studies such as bathymetry, develop detailed plans, a business case etc. Council has already incurred costs of over $128,000 on the project.
4. It was quickly evident that the original funding promise was not going to deliver the original safe harbour concept plan. The boat ramp, rock wall, and associated facilities were deemed the most critical and were deemed stage 1.
As and when more funding becomes available, Council will continue developing the site. There is always the potential for a private developer/operator to get involved.
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.