Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Michelle Landry MP and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce in Capricornia last week.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Michelle Landry MP and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce in Capricornia last week. Contributed

Byrne explains no Rookwood funds after LNP attack

ROCKHAMPTON MP Bill Byrne has retaliated against Deputy Premier, Barnaby Joyce's post budget comments saying "every time the LNP feels some pressure it repeats the same old lines about the Rookwood Weir”.

"Every time the Federal Coalition are under the pump you find the veracity and ignorance of Barnaby Joyce coming out talking about Rookwood Weir,” Mr Byrne said.

"When they got in the jam over Shoalwater Bay expansions and the knocking out of many properties - Rookwood Weir.

"Every single diversion Barnaby Joyce wants to run up is about Rookwood Weir.... And frankly, I'm sick to death of it.”

Mr Joyce launched an attack on the State Budget 2017, which was handed down on Tuesday, saying there was nothing for CQ in the budget and asked where the funds were for Rookwood Weir.

"As far Central Queensland is going, as the Queensland Labor Party's budget is going, well nothing is going to happen for Central Queensland. It is hopeless. It is pathetic," Mr Joyce said.

"We have given them a project. We have put $130 million on the table for it and we put $2 million on the table for the business case. And what do they give? Nothing.

"At the very least, you think they would have something for Rookwood - something that would underpin the fact we know that more water is desired from, required from that project than we actually have.

"It is oversubscribed. We know that it has an incredible return. We hear that the return on equity is around three times.

"But what we did here in the Queensland budget was a lot about Cross River Rail. For the Labor Party, it was always a budget for inner suburban Brisbane. That's what it was, a budget for inner suburban Brisbane."

Rockhampton LNP candidate, Douglas Rodgers said Rookwood Weir promised to provide thousands of jobs for a fraction the price of the government's love affair with Brisbane commuters.

"Once again the south east gets first bite while we are left to share the crumbs.” Mr Rodgers said.

Mr Byrne hit back saying funding couldn't be allocated for the project until the business case was complete, due in the third quarter of the year.

He said while there was not funding in black and white in the budget, if the business case stacked up, there were ways funding could be allocated in the 2017-18 financial year.

"What happens in budgets are that the certainties going forward and the forward estimates reveal the commitments to certainty,” Mr Byrne said.

"If the business case stacks up, there are other mechanisms within government, notably the cabinet budget review committee that allows for adjustments in budget spends.

"Then there's the mid year updates that occur in any financial year anyway.

"The idea that the forward estimates is the panacea of all spend and budget returns is simply not accurate.

"There are many adjustments made to budgets throughout the year and the cabinet budget review committee is part of that process.

"Many people don't seem to accept that.”

Mr Byrne said he could not understand where Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and the Coalition were coming up with the comments that there was an over-subscription for water from Rookwood Weir.

"None of that information, which is being handled at arms length from government through Building Queensland, is publicly available,” he said.

Mr Byrne added that the Rookwood Weir was principally about industrial and urban consumption.

"It's not an agricultural dam. It's an urban and industrial water consuming dam where agriculture is a second tier value add to the proposal,” he said.

Mr Byrne said the amount of land available for high value agriculture off the back off it was "very modest indeed, relative to capability in the rest of the state and Australia.”

"That this idea that its going to be the Food Bowl of Australia or South East Asia is a complete nonsense,” he said.

"That's not to dismiss prospects of value-add agriculture and all its forms potentially going forward here.”



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