PROMISE: An artist impression of the planned CQU marina campus, which Ken O'Dowd promised to help fund in the lead up to the election.
PROMISE: An artist impression of the planned CQU marina campus, which Ken O'Dowd promised to help fund in the lead up to the election. Ronald Tollasepp

$10m cash splash for future Gladstone tradies

THE Soviet Union-esque concrete jungle of a Tafe centre on Derby St could be a thing of the past for CQUniversity if the Coalition wins the election on Saturday.

Liberal National Party candidate for Flynn Ken O'Dowd will announce this morning that if elected the Coalition will fork out $10 million of the $16.4 million CQUniversity Marina Campus Upgrade.

It might be an 11th hour deal for Mr O'Dowd with The Australian newspaper reporting this week that an LNP source said some party members expected him to lose the seat.

The university released its shovel-ready proposal on May 31, citing the timing with the election as convenient and a coincidence.

The proposal sees the Derby St Campus, which holds Tafe courses, shifted to new buildings at the Marina Campus, allowing trades and engineering students to learn alongside each other as well as a teaching restaurant and hair and beauty salons.

But as the election neared, vice-chancellor Scott Bowman had "written it off and had looked for other ways to find funding for the project" despite deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce saying he would 'go into bat' for the project when he was in Gladstone on Tuesday.

Last night Prof. Bowman was shocked to find out Mr Joyce's batting had paid off as the Coalition told him it would commit $10 million to the project.

The remaining $6.4 million to complete the project will come from the university with Prof. Bowman, who drives the university's finances, saying it would throw in between $5-$6 million with additional funds from industry.

He said Gladstone needed this facility and on a recent tour of the Derby St campus pointed out the obsolete equipment students were using because the modern equipment was too heavy for the buildings.

"We could end up with something really special and mix it in with our engineering degrees and offer new streams of engineering," he said.

"We would then have the facilities to bring international students to Gladstone by offering something state-of-the-art."

Prof. Bowman said he would continue to push for a commitment from Labor's Flynn candidate Zac Beers who has focused on increasing the number of trades students in Flynn during the campaign after the number had decreased by 900 since the Coalition took office.


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