Steam train rattles into brighter future
THE Mary Valley Rattler has been thrown the lifeline it needed.
The steam train will run again in the Mary Valley, bringing back to the landscape its puffs of steam and trail of tourist dollars.
Gympie Regional Council formalised its plan to become the sole shareholder of a not-for-profit company that will oversee the running of the Mary Valley Heritage Rail.
Mayor Ron Dyne said it was a "no brainer" to support the Rattler at a time when the State Government was dangling a $2 million offer for track refurbishments on the condition that it have security from an overarching company like the council.
"At this stage it does not cost council anything," he said.
"We are only assisting the State Government in developing the two companies to help bring the Rattler back into operation."
The council also recently gave the organisers of the Gympie Muster a $300,000 interest-free loan.
"The Muster and Rattler are two things known around Australia," Cr Dyne said.
"Council has got to make decisions on where they can best get return on dollars invested. This is not a matter of investing in every organisation that is doing it tough - it's about looking at major iconic events."
But it seems the Sunshine Coast Regional Council would not be so supportive.
That council's tourism and events portfolio councillor said this week that while it would absolutely stand in the corner of any Sunshine Coast tourism venture that was struggling, it was not the role of council to use ratepayer money to "bail out" businesses.
"It is a very slippery slope if council starts bailing out commercial operators," Cr Jason O'Pray said.