Securing Adani FIFO hub priority as hope for HQ fades

Mackay Airport could hold the key when it comes to establishing the Adani project's major FIFO hub.
Mackay Airport could hold the key when it comes to establishing the Adani project's major FIFO hub. Peter Holt

MACKAY'S leaders have set about polishing the region's bid for Adani's FIFO hub as hopes of securing its regional headquarters rapidly fade.

On Tuesday state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will travel to Townsville with head of the Adani Group Guatum Adani to deliver "good news", prompting speculation the city will be announced as headquarters location.

Although it is believed Mackay will still benefit greatly from the project's maintenance contracts, the news would leave many fuming, with Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan promising "if it goes to Townsville you won't hear the end of it from me".

Others have now set their sights on ensuring the region wouldn't be completely overlooked when it came to establishing the project's major FIFO hub.

While Adani have confirmed hubs would be located in Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton, Mackay will be gearing to attract the biggest slice of the pie.

Townsville and Mackay Airports are each privately owned, by Queensland Airports Ltd and North Queensland Airports Group respectively, while Rockhampton Airport is owned by its council.

Resource Industry Network Chairman Tony Caruso said as infrastructure was similar at the Rockhampton and Mackay airports, deciding between the two would likely to boil down to two factors: which region could tap into the best skills base and which could offer the most competitive package.

Questions have been asked about whether or not the privately owned Mackay Airport would be able to offer the same sort of incentives as Rockhampton Airport, given it is council-owned.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen noted that a council may have more flexibility to offer subsidies.

"We need to be sure Mackay's bid to be a FIFO hub is the best," Mr Christensen said.

"It is a worry that a council-owned airport could offer subsidies. If that's the case then Mackay needs to step up."

However, he said a privately owned airport may be able to offer better commercial expertise.

Mackay Airport general manager Rob Porter certainly thought so, pointing out that its experience managing FIFO operations far exceeded Rockhampton's.

"During the peak of the mining boom we managed more than a million passengers," Mr Porter said.

"Being a privatised airport we can actually be far more nimble. And at the end of the day, this is not about ratepayers money being squandered.

"We are ready to meet with Adani at any time."

Mr Costigan said if the Rockhampton Council did offer better subsidies, "Labor's asset sales of the past" would be to blame.

The airport was sold by the State Government in 2008, generating about $200m to rebuild the Mackay Base Hospital.

However Mr Costigan also noted Mackay was closer to the Carmichael Coal Project than Rockhampton, which could offer fuel savings.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert saw no issue with the Mackay Airport being privately owned.

While others had expressed disappointment that missing out on the regional headquarters would see the city lose a chance to prop up its white collar industry, Ms Gilbert still saw an opportunity for that to happen by securing contracts.

"It's is disappointing because we have all the resources to cater for white collar industry. But we can still build it up through the engineering sector," Ms Gilbert said.

She explained that as Paget companies locked in contracts with the Carmichael project, they would be likely to establish the offices for executives in Mackay as well.

Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Margaret Strelow declined the opportunity to comment.

Adani Australia were not able to be reached for comment.

Topics:  adani airport fifo mackay mining rockhampton townsville

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