THE CQ Capras rugby league team has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, with the Gladstone Regional Council deciding to kick goals in the community instead of sin binning a funding application to bring a clash with the PNG Hunters to town.
It was Deputy Mayor Kahn Goodluck and Councillor Chris Trevor, men at opposite ends of the league love spectrum, who pushed for part-funding of the $66,000 three-day event culminating in the Capras game with a team widely touted to be next in line for a call-up to the NRL ranks.
The Capras and an application for $25,000 to assist the inaugural Gladstone Country Music Festival were two initially declined from a total of 13 applications lodged for funding from the impact, destination and signature event pool.
“I played rugby league for over 30 years in this community… this is a rugby league town, it’s also a soccer town and it’s also a town of many other events,” Cr Trevor said.
“But rugby league runs through the veins of the Gladstone community and has been since I was a young boy.
“I look at this investment program and I see the CQ Capras versus PNG Hungers event weekend… you could imagine the interest that would be engendered by putting on such an event in our Gladstone community.”
Cr Trevor described the skills of the PNG Hunters as “magical” and said it would be a “missed opportunity” if the event did not come to Gladstone due to a lack of council funding.
Mayor Matt Burnett said it was abundantly clear that the $265,000 cash and $102,500 in-kind contribution from council approved to fund the other 11 events, such as the Gladstone Harbour Festival, Brisbane-Gladstone Yacht Race, Boyne Tannum HookUp, Mt Larcom Show and Agnes Blues Roots and Rock Festival, was inadequate.
He was successful in getting another $100,000 – including $10,000 each for the Capras and Gladstone Country Music Festival – approved to top up applications closing to their funding request.
Cr Burnett said he would also consider amending the relevant council policy to better reflect how much of the funding was spent locally.
“To me, the Gladstone Harbour Festival is in with the signature events and it absolutely is,” he said.
“It is also part of Easter in Gladstone. It is the most significant event for the year as part of the Brisbane-Gladstone Yacht Race.
“I guess what the other councillors have said is that the committee has a certain budget to work with, and at budget time we obviously didn’t allocate appropriate for the events that we had and that we might have.”
Cr Burnett said he could not support funding recommendations that would reduce funding to the Gladstone Harbour Festival, the yacht race or the Port to Park fun run.
“I think we’ve got it wrong,” he said.
“We have a fantastic relationship with the Gladstone Port Corporation, they’re one of the best corporate citizens any community anywhere in the world would ant to have partnerships with.”
Cr Trevor said the Gladstone council was in a strong fiscal position to be able to expand its funding of events so important to the social fabric of the region.
“If I’m reading the room right, that for the sake of $100,000 and we are dealing with millions of dollars worth of projects, some upwards of tens of millions of dollars, and yet we feel constrained when it comes to the delivery of projects which are so important from a social fabric point of view.
“So I think the community and the volunteers and everybody attached to these projects should be supported by us.
“Over the years, I’ve seen this council manage our finances extremely well and we are in no danger of fiscal irresponsibility whatsoever.”
Council chief executive Leisa Dowling said the shortfall in the Community Partnerships Program could be found from underspends on other council projects.
The distribution of the newly approved extra $100,000 is at her discretion with applicants to be advised of the new amounts.
Cr Glenn Churchill suggested in future the region’s signature events should have the option of entering into multi-year sponsorship agreements with council to strengthen their business plans, give surety to the future and “grow the events even more as a regional destination”.
General Manager Community and Lifestyle Kylie Lee said she would welcome a return of the arrangement.
Capras chief executive officer Peter White said he hoped to be able to soon confirm the one-off event would go ahead at Marley Brown Oval from February 23-25.