$5.5m road impasse

PROPONENTS of a $200 million eco-tourism development at Musselroe Bay say construction has been held up by road upgrades, with developers sweating on a firm commitment from the federal government over infrastructure funds.

Before the state election, the state Liberals promised $5.5 million to upgrade access roads, with the hope it would be matched by the federal government. The Dorset Council had pledged $500,000.

Until federal funding is set in stone, Chinese developer Melbourne Resort Development has instructed Tasmanian-based company CBM Sustainability Group to hold off on construction.

The Dorset Council will tonight receive a briefing report that proposes the state government take over responsibility of the main access road to the development, which also services the Bridport sand mine.

It is understood Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding and Treasurer Peter Gutwein visited Dorset earlier this month to put the offer on the table to work with the council to ensure the development goes ahead with or without federal support for road upgrades.

Dorset Mayor Barry Jarvis said the offer showed the state was willing to go it alone to make the development a reality.

``Full-time employment of that scale is something we just haven't had in the past,'' Cr Jarvis said.

Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic said he would be happy to take forward a proposal to allocate Commonwealth infrastructure funding for the development.

``I've had a number of discussions in relation to the Musselroe Bay development and I would welcome that development for the North-East,'' Mr Nikolic said.

The eco-tourism development is in the detailed design stage after receiving development approval in November.

The construction phase is expected to create 960 direct full-time equivalent jobs and 2470 indirect. Once operational it is expected to create 120 direct and 160 indirect jobs.

CBM Sustainability Group chief executive John Dingemanse has met Mr Nikolic and said he was confident the project was still on track with funding for road upgrades set to be locked in.

``From the moment all those documents are signed off, they go back to China and then there'll be a gearing-up period,'' Mr Dingemanse said.

``We'd indicated we'd be making a start after June this year, there has been a delay because of the change in government.''

Mr Dingemanse said the Chinese investors expected infrastructure to be in place.

``I don't care who manages it, I just want the road upgraded,'' he said.


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