An argument over $8.6 million in unspent boat levy funds was fought out in State Parliament last week.
In a lengthy address, Opposition MP Tim Whetstone claimed money from the Boating Facilities Fund should have been allocated and spent by this stage in a term. Government MP Member for Colton Paul Caica took offence to the claims, saying the $8.613 million in funds are committed to projects and the money is being spent.
“I do not want to be disrespectful to the member for Chaffey, but I could not quite comprehend the logic, if there was any, in his contribution,” he said.
“The funds expenditure is already committed to approved council boating infrastructure projects that are currently underway and a further commitment has been made for navigation aid upgrades over the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years,” he said.
“The perception that there are millions of dollars available for further applications for the fund is absolutely false.”
Mr Caica said Mr Whetstone was trying to say that the money ought to be expended as quickly as it comes in. “I am paraphrasing here—but it certainly should be spent,” he said.
Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick said the funds should have been spent to ensure commitment to both the region’s tourism prospects and communities.
“The recreational fishing and tourism sectors are incredibly important to our local communities,” he said. “That’s why we should encourage investment in infrastructure that will help drive growth in both these sectors.”
“We want to ensure that the boating levy paid by South Australians is used for its intended purpose and is actually spent on upgrading boat ramps and other facilities,” he said
Mr Pederick said the electorate had a number of boat ramps that need to be upgraded.
“Hammond is a beautiful part of our great state and we know that more tourism in the region means more dollars coming into the community which could help create much needed jobs,” he said.
In closing his argument, Mr Whetstone retained his original stance that the boating levy had not been spent.
“In 2014-15, there was $6 million; in 2015-16, there was $8.6 million; and in 2016-17, there was $7.9 million.
“It is funny how the government could be spending that money in the 2017-18 year, funny about an election coming up,” he said.