Wagners’ $175m project precinct on verge of collapse
A multimillion-dollar mega project proposed by Toowoomba billionaires the Wagners is on the verge of collapse, after the federal government declined to front up a large slice of funding.
It comes as a government source also questioned "the value" of another Wagner Group proposal - a 1000-bed quarantine facility at the privately-owned Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba - after the Prime Minister indicated home quarantine for vaccinated returning Australians is on the cards.
The Wagners' proposed $175m Wellcamp Entertainment Precinct (WEP) project, which includes a world-class driver training hub and 40,000 person performing arts venue, had already received a provisional $40m funding commitment from the state government in October last year.
But Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, in a letter obtained by the Courier-Mail, is set to inform the billionaire businessmen that "unfortunately, there are currently no programs open" in his portfolio to fund "this type of project".
The decision comes months after Mr McCormack, while in Toowoomba, signalled in principle support for the project.
It's understood the state government's funding commitment was incumbent on the Commonwealth fronting up $40m, meaning the project is back to being solely funded by the Wagner Group which put forward $95m.
Wagner Group co-founder John Wagner, who on Sunday was yet to receive the federal government's letter, said the project would not go ahead without government funding from both levels.
Mr Wagner said the company had told the federal government the funding didn't need to come this budget or next and could be factored into the forward estimates.
He said the project, if funded, would create 350 to 400 vital jobs in a post-coronavirus economy.
Asked if funding in future budgets was ruled out, a spokesman for Mr McCormack said the government was "investing heavily" in regional development and was "always open" to discussing ideas to "continue this strong agenda".
The federal government has yet to publicly reject or accept the quarantine facility proposal and has repeatedly said it requires more information from the Queensland government, particularly around how much it would cost.
Mr Wagner declined to comment on the progress of the facility.
The federal government already funds a quarantine facility for returning Australians similar to the one proposed at Wellcamp.
The Howard Springs Quarantine Facility in Darwin is set to cater for up to 2000 repatriated Australians per fortnight by the end of May, with the federal government placing $513.5m of money on the table to do so.
Originally published as Wagners' $175m project precinct on verge of collapse