Barbs fly as The Oasis funding commitment questioned

THERE is "no question" the $5 million funding packet needed to complete Townsville's premier defence support hub will be delivered, Herbert MP Phillip Thompson has said.

It comes after Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke questioned the Federal Government's commitment to The Oasis Townsville, slamming Federal Veterans Minister Darren Chester for saying the funding was "under consideration".

The Oasis hopes to ­provide 24-hour welfare ­support and employment transition services to serving and ex-ADF personnel and their families in Townsville.

Ms O'Rourke wrote to Mr Chester in early July asking for his government to commit to its $5 million election commitment and to release the funds early to the State Government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with fox terrier Zoe and MP Phillip Thompson during a visit to The Oasis Townsville, Thursday, August 8, 2019. (AAP Image/Cameron Laird) NO ARCHIVING
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with fox terrier Zoe and MP Phillip Thompson during a visit to The Oasis Townsville, Thursday, August 8, 2019. (AAP Image/Cameron Laird) NO ARCHIVING

"In order to finalise and accept the construction tender for all three zones of the Oasis development, we require the total project financial commitment, inclusive of the Commonwealth's contribution, to be in place," she said.

In his reply, dated July 25, Mr Chester said the "implementation and funding approach is currently under consideration" and the government was unable to make a commitment on when it would be delivered by the July 31 deadline Ms O'Rourke was seeking.

Herbert MP Phillip Thompson slammed Ms O'Rourke's assertion the Federal Government had reneged on its commitment as "dishonest".

"What Ms O'Rourke put on social media is a lie," he said.

"There was no question of if or what, we're funding it, we're doing it, it's happening."

Mr Chester did not give a timeline of when the $5 million would be delivered but said the Federal Government was investing the money over three years.

It is envisaged The Oasis would be open by Anzac Day 2020.

The Oasis director Lieutenant General John Caligari (Retd), who met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday, said he was under the impression there was no issue.

For the moment The Oasis' hurdle is deciding how much parking will go on-street or in the facility.

"Once we get that squared away, within the next week or so, then we can commence detailed planning of the facility and the Queensland Government gets on with building the road," Mr Caligari said.

Mr Caligari said the delivery of the Federal Government funding would determine the end design of the facility.

"I don't know exactly when the Queensland Government needs (the $5 million), but what I do know is that they need some form of guarantee that it's coming," he said.

"We really do need to guarantee that it's coming but as far as I'm concerned the Prime Minister gave us that guarantee on the radio and in person (on Thursday)."

Ms O'Rourke said the State Government had solely funded the project to date, with a total of $4.3 million for design and construction and $1.8 million to secure land.

She said the State Government was seeking the funds from the Federal Government as soon as possible to ensure The Oasis was "delivered in full and realises its full benefit" to the community.

"The project is currently awaiting final town planning approval. Once this occurs we are ready to immediately proceed to tender, subject to receiving the federal funds," she said.


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