Work starts on cyclone shelter

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It seems time is quickly running out for opponents of the approved Port Douglas cyclone shelter with construction due to begin this week.

State Member for Cook, Jason O'Brien, was on site at the Port Douglas State School on Friday to officially launch the commencement of work on the $5.5 million facility.

“This cyclone shelter is an extremely important project for the region,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It will service the evacuation areas of Port Douglas, Oak Beach, Cooya Beach, Newell, Wonga, Lower Daintree and Cape Tribulation.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be here today to witness the start of construction on this cyclone shelter, which will have such wide-reaching benefits for the community,” he said.

Premier Anna Bligh said the shelter was one of 10 being constructed in North Queensland as part of the $60 million cyclone shelter program jointly established by the Bligh Government and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

“The start of construction on this project represents another huge step forward for our $60 million cyclone shelter program,” the Premier said.

“This government is getting on with the job of building these cyclone shelters for the people of North Queensland – the Port Douglas community can expect to see this shelter complete by the end of November, weather permitting.”

Listen to the speech by Port Douglas State School's Head of Curriculum and acting Principal Karena Loomes

However, the Government has been questioned over the distribution of funds with Weipa's shelter expected to cost around $11.5 million, $6 million more than the Port Douglas shelter.

"You don't know exactly how much (a shelter will cost) until the tender comes in," Mr O'Brien said.

"Weipa will be more expensive. Each of these projects is going to be different. There are some more complex problems in Weipa than there was here in terms of getting land transferred, the site needed clearing, and it's just more expensive building there.

"All communities are essentially getting the same product. It's just the nature of Queensland that it's more expensive to build in some areas than it is in others."

Other reports have been circulating that just over $50 million of the $60 million has been spent on the ten cyclone shelters, leaving a substantial shortfall.

Mr O'Brien said that figure covers the construction costs, while the remainder covers design and testing in the "pre-construction" phase.

"There are other expenses other than just construction," he said.

Pictured: Frank Spannenburg (Project Services), Karena Loomes (Head of Curriculum, acting Principal - Port Douglas State School), Jason O'Brien (State Member for Cook), Shane Meers (Site Manager, Probuild).

Northbuild (the company who has won the tender for the construction) site manager, Shane Meers, said up to 200 jobs will be created, including initial employment for local surveyors, concreters, and demolition crew.

Andrew McIntosh, branch manager of Northbuild appeared unfazed by reports that the LNP would review the project on winning the upcoming State election.

"I can't speculate on whether the job will be held up, but at this stage we're building what we're contracted to build and that's a cyclone shelter in the location that's currently picked," Mr McIntosh said.

Story by Newsport