Statement from Nick Dametto MP – Port Hinchinbrook

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto at Port Hinchinbrook.

19 February 2024

As the local Government election quickly approaches, I have been contacted by a number of candidates in the running for a place on the Cassowary Coast Regional Council (CCRC) to discuss all things Port Hinchinbrook.

The normalisation process of Port Hinchinbrook is well underway and many of the land-based issues have or are currently being resolved. A new sewage treatment plant is currently being constructed, while the CCRC is now responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the roads, parks and gardens within the development. There is still an ongoing issue with street lighting and a shortfall of six million dollars to cover the cost of the new sewage treatment plant which the State Government has been made aware of. As grant funding becomes available the CCRC will be encouraged by the State to apply. With many of the land-based problems put to bed, our focus must shift to the dredging of One Mile Creek and the marina basin.

To move forward it is necessary to break the dredging into two parts, emergency dredging of One Mile Creek for public access to the boat ramp, and a long-term solution for the dredging of One Mile Creek and the marina.

The CCRC is the current proponent for the emergency dredging project at One Mile Creek and $1.5 million of Federal funds have been secured to undertake this task. The CCRC is responsible for seeing through the short-term dredging project. Devising a solution that accords with the $1.5 million budget, which is also achievable under the current environmental constraints, has proven difficult for the CCRC as this project is yet to practically commence.

For any candidate interested in Cardwell I would strongly suggest they align with the calls of the ratepayers who reside here. The long-term vision for Port Hinchinbrook according to the Cardwell Chamber of Commerce, boaties, most residents, visitors and business owners I have met with is to have once again a fully functioning and near all tidal access channel and marina, and nothing less. I believe the only way this can be achieved is with the full backing of the CCRC and the State Government.

During 2023 I presented several options for a long-term plan with the relevant Ministers with the goal of capitalising on those meeting when parliament resumed this year. However, with the cabinet re-shuffle in early December last year this has meant different Ministers now have carriage of the portfolios needed to work through Port Hinchinbrook’s dredging issues.

So, the work continues. Since the re-shuffle all relevant Ministers have received detailed correspondence from me setting out the challenges and potential solutions for Port Hinchinbrook. Last week I was pleased with the progress made during our first Ministerial meeting with two further meetings pending for the next sitting

week of parliament commencing 5 March 2024. This Government knows loud and clear, Port Hinchinbrook is a key priority project of which I will not let go of until we have completed what we set out to achieve. I would like to hope that any potential representative for Division 1 of the CCRC shares the same view.

This week in Parliament I delivered a speech to the house on Port Hinchinbrook. A transcript is provided below, as well as the video extract.


[1]Mr DAMETTO (Hinchinbrook—KAP) (2.39 pm): No Queenslander should be left behind and no community should be forgotten after a natural disaster. Thirteen years ago, Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast, devastating much of North Queensland. Towns like Cardwell were completely devastated. This saw Federal and State funding flow their way to rebuild their communities. This was not the case a couple of kilometres down the road at Port Hinchinbrook.

For residents, the destruction that was caused by Cyclone Yasi was only the beginning of the nightmare. What would follow could only be described as heartbreaking and crushing. Residents have endured living under a failed planning document, the Conformed Deed, which made it the responsibility of the developer to provide services and maintenance to the roads, sewerage, lighting, parks and gardens maintenance and dredging of the marina basin maintenance as well as the dredging of One Mile Creek.

With the latest company to own Port Hinchinbrook, Passage Holdings, in liquidation and no legal mechanism for any entity to rate and charge for these services, it was agreed by the then State Development Minister to proceed with the normalisation of the development. This also included the cooperation of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council. It has not been an easy road for those involved in the process, and I must applaud the State and Federal government for their funding and technical support thus far.

As planned, the land-based problems were to be addressed first. Now that a new sewage treatment plant is under construction and the roads, parks and gardens have been taken on by the local council, we must turn our focus to a long-term dredging plan. Although a $1.5 million commitment was made available to the Cassowary Coast Regional Council through the Federal Government for emergency dredging, this has been a long, drawn-out process which has left business owners, Coastguard volunteers and commercial and recreational fishers frustrated beyond furious at the lack of urgency of this project.

I now turn my attention to the State Government. I do not believe that this, or an incoming local council can execute this long-term dredging plan. The residents of Cardwell have suffered for 13 years and have lost faith in the council’s ability to solve this problem, and I implore the State Government to intervene. Recently I met with the Local Government Minister, who suggested that I then meet with the incoming Transport Minister to make him aware of the possible solutions, which include adoption of a Bluewater model which is used at Yorkey’s Knob north of Cairns to maintain its marina and waterway or to find a way where Ports North can take on this project. Finishing what we started here will take political will from this government and a multi-departmental and Ministerial approach, but it can be done.

This is the right thing to do for this forgotten community.

[1] Queensland Parliament Hansard, pg 267-268


Nick Dametto MP