Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has tabled a petition in the Queensland Parliament on behalf of 1,110 petitioners about the outrageous situation facing the Tully Coast Guard, regarding its radio installation, currently co-located with Ergon Energy infrastructure on Mount Mackay, east of Tully.
Mr Cripps wrote to Energy Minister, Mark Bailey, on 20 December 2016, expressing his anger and disgust at what appeared to be Ergon Energy trying to take advantage of a community based, volunteer, not-for-profit organisation, providing an important safety service to the local community.
“As of today, I have not had a reply from the Energy Minister to my representations, in which I asked him to intervene and direct Ergon Energy to withdraw its requirement for the Tully Coast Guard to pay to continue to co-locate its small radio installation on Mount Mackay” said Mr Cripps.
“Ergon Energy’s attempts to extract these monies, when there are several other public agencies on the same site, including the police, ambulance and fire and rescue services, the SES and Maritime Safety Queensland, not to mention Ergon Energy itself, is absolutely disgraceful” he said.
Mr Cripps said since 2001, there had been a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ where the Mount Mackay installation had helped keep local boaties safe, providing coverage for the VHF distress frequency (Channel 16) and UHF connections to a VHF repeater (Channel 80), of up to 80 nautical miles.
“Currently, Ergon is proposing a short term band aid arrangement, in which they want the Tully Coast Guard to pay an upfront change of $10,000 and an Annual Licence Fee of more than $10,000 each year, for three years, to maintain its radio installation on the Mount Mackay site”.
“This is well beyond their capacity to pay and when we know none of the public agencies, which also have communications infrastructure at this site on top of Mount Mackay, are prepared to make a contribution, it is outrageous and ridiculous to expect the Tully Coast Guard to foot this bill”.
Speaking in the Queensland Parliament after tabling the petition, Mr Cripps said the Tully Coast Guard provided a vital marine safety and community service to the community in the Cassowary Coast Region and that Ergon Energy’s behaviour was a serious threat to the future of that service.