The Mary Valley Rattler
The Mary Valley Rattler Craig Warhurst

Council seeks assurance on Rattler funding

DESPERATELY needed rescue money for the Gympie Region's vital tourist icon, the Mary Valley Rattler, is in the balance.

The money, $2 million allocated in the 2013-14 state budget and another $600,000 promised last year, shifted into a grey area on January 31, with Labor's stunning victory in the Queensland election.

But there is no law that requires a Government to stick to its budget.

And there is especially no law that a Government must stick to the budget promises of a previous Government.

It seems some of the money has been allocated, but not yet released and some has been promised but not yet allocated.

Late yesterday, the Department of State Development confirmed that the matter was under review.

"The Rattler Railway Company has submitted their business case and it is currently being considered by the incoming Government," a departmental spokeswoman said.

Mayor Mick Curran said yesterday he would be writing to the state government seeking that it re-commit resources for the Mary Valley Rattler.

He said the council had helped develop a business case with the state government, which had indicated the tourist steam train service was viable.

"I will be writing to the new Government to see if the money is still coming," he said yesterday.

"Hopefully the new Government will support the initiative.

Rattler board member Garry Davison said some of the $2 million had been used to investigate the best ways to get the track restoration done.

The government at that time had reviewed a Rattler company report and decided the job should be put out to tender.

Tenders for rebuilding the track to take the Mary Valley Rattler as far as the money allows, were to be called about now.

But January's early election and its result had caused some hold-up.

It was now up to the new Government to decide if it still intended that the track rebuild should be put out to tender, or if some other proposal was being considered.

"We've got to have an annual general meeting shortly," Mr Davison said.

"So we're waiting for the government to tell us which way it's going to go."

He said the Rattler Railway Company board (which now consists of him, acting chairman Ian McNichol, secretary Gaylene Smith and former Mary Valley Heritage Rail chair Tony Hallam) would consider appointing new board members with expertise appropriate to whatever the government decided.

Mr Davison said the council's role was via its representation on the holding company, which owns the assets to be used by the railway company.

"The holding company has the assets. It's board consists of the mayor (now Mick Curran), council CEO Bernard Smith and the Gympie state MP (now Tony Perrett).

He said the Rattler company had also done costings for repairs of rolling stock.

Gympie Times

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