Why has it been so difficult for the public to be given correct information about the venture its poured millions of dollars into?. Photo: John McCutcheon.
Why has it been so difficult for the public to be given correct information about the venture its poured millions of dollars into?. Photo: John McCutcheon.

Ratepayers deserve to know truth about who owns the Rattler

ANOTHER month, another question about the Rattler.

Last week's ATO ruling that the council didn't own the heritage train's governing body has raised yet more questions about what the public has been historically told about the train it has poured millions of dollars into.

And you don't have to look far to find the council claiming otherwise.

In the infamous 2016 business case the council identified the Rattler Railway company as one of two companies "wholly owned and underwritten by the GRC".

The council’s business case for the train’s return identified the RRC as “wholly owned” by the council. The ATO’s ruling last week says otherwise.
The council’s business case for the train’s return identified the RRC as “wholly owned” by the council. The ATO’s ruling last week says otherwise.

In 2019, when asked a direct question about the relationship between the two groups, it was claimed the RRC was "fully owned by council".

The ATO disagrees.

Yes, the Rattler Railway Company is a council-controlled entity.

But ownership and control are two different things, and besides - that's not what the council said, is it?

And why is it so hard to give ratepayers - those footing the bill - accurate information?

Financial statements for the Rattler in 2018 and 2019 also identified it as wholly owned by the council.
Financial statements for the Rattler in 2018 and 2019 also identified it as wholly owned by the council.

Did the council itself have no idea?

If ownership was somehow changed when an amended constitution for the RRC was adopted in 2017 and the asset holding company wound up, it doesn't explain why the council was still calling the RRC fully council owned two years later.

Even the RRC apparently believed this statement's accuracy given its own claims the train was a "wholly owned subsidiary of the council".

It's not the crime of the century, but if those running the show aren't clear on the ownership structure what hope does the public have?

The growing list of inaccurate information made about the Rattler during and after its return begins to suggest the only correct thing the public was told was its name.
The growing list of inaccurate information made about the Rattler during and after its return begins to suggest the only correct thing the public was told was its name.

It's not the first time information around the train has seemed to be adrift from factual accuracy, either.

In 2017, the council claimed in a press release CR Rail had "formed an alliance with Aurizon" to repair the train's tracks.

Aurizon outright refuted this.

Then there's the questions around the status of the long-delayed review, and the condition of the tracks before the restoration … it's not exactly a short list.

In fact it starts to look like the only correct information given to the public was the train's name.

The council and the RRC need to clear this up once and for all.

The public deserves nothing less if it's expected to continue footing a large part of the bill.

Gympie Times


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