WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has voted to explore options to make the Shute Harbour boat ramp more user friendly by negotiating to remove the fixed ramp and replace it with a floating pontoon.
Councillors voted 4-3 to authorise the CEO to negotiate with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) and finalise an agreement to accept marine infrastructure assets at ‘nil’ acquisition costs.
The move follows many complaints about the ramp, which some have labelled ‘dangerous’.
Mayor Julie Hall said it had been a lengthy process to achieve an outcome but it was crucial as the Shute Harbour boat ramp held significant importance for the region, as a vital access point for maritime activities.
“Shortly after being elected Mayor in late 2022, I raised our community’s concerns about the boat ramp issue and was appreciative of Minister Mark Bailey for taking my request to meet with him in Brisbane for discussions,” she said.
“My aim was for council to work proactively with the Department Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and MSQ to explore possible solutions to make the current boat ramp more user friendly based on community feedback.
“I was grateful to the Minister and MSQ to be willing to return to the table and work collaboratively with council to solve an issue that has caused angst within our community.
“I understand and accept the decision that was made by the State Government, at the time, to build a boat ramp with a fixed walkway after Cyclone Debbie obliterated Shute Harbour.
“Their advice was that a fixed walkway attachment to this boat ramp was required due to the number of cyclones experienced in the Whitsundays, which leads to floating walkways being at risk.
“Without wave mitigation structures it was decided a fixed structure would be the best outcome…hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
However, Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm is not as impressed with the government’s actions.
“The Queensland State Government’s lack of community engagement and arrogance will cost Whitsunday ratepayers approximately $1.4m,” she said.
“If the government had undertaken proper consultation right from the beginning, they would have known that a fixed boat ramp at Shute Harbour was not fit for purpose and not what the community wanted.
“For the past two years, it’s been obvious that the boat ramp’s upgrades were dangerous to the public and I raised these issues with the Minister and the government on multiple occasions, but it was never recognised as being any issue.
“Minister Bailey and this government’s arrogance has already cost Queenslanders $1.8m in failed upgrades to the Shute Harbour Boat Ramp and now their inability to deliver a project on time or fit for purpose looks set to cost Whitsunday ratepayers a further $1.4m. Whitsunday fishers, boaties and all ratepayers deserve better.”