$130m funding for infrastructure project to bring 300 jobs

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce are expected to fly into Flynn today with an infrastructure announcement the region has been waiting years to hear.

Flynn voters have been crying out for a new infrastructure project since the three Curtis Island LNG plants reached the half-way stage of construction and the commodity prices hit the skids making it hard for miners to make a profit.

IN-FIGHTING: Government MP launches a bizarre attack on Gladstone councillors over a perceived lack of support for the $132m Rookwood Weir project.
IN-FIGHTING: Government MP launches a bizarre attack on Gladstone councillors over a perceived lack of support for the $132m Rookwood Weir project. Contrinuted

That has resulted in construction companies going into receivership, employees being made redundant at stalwart Gladstone refineries and power stations, and coal mines going into administration.

Today at Gracemere, the PM and deputy PM are expected to announce $130 million funding for the $260 million Rookwood Weir and give the challenge to the State Government and private enterprises to fund the rest.

A government source said the proposed weir near the town of Rocklea, two and a half hours north west of Gladstone, was "front-and-centre" of the major announcement. In February Mr Turnbull visited the weir that will create about 300 direct construction jobs, provide water security for Gladstone, Rockhampton and central Queensland, and diversify the agriculture industry.

Gladstone Area Water Board would be able to take its allocated 30,000 mega litres from Rookwood which it cannot use at the moment because the water is flowing out to sea.

The water board's chief executive officer Jim Grayson said the importance of the weir should not be lost on Gladstone because Awoonga is at a high level.

Awoonga water levels can drop quickly during a drought with Gladstone industries guzzling 70% of the dam's water.

In 2003 Mr Grayson experienced exactly that. Water levels were extremely low and he was fielding calls from Gladstone's major industries asking for water assurances he couldn't give.

Cyclone Beni broke that drought and swung the water board into action and that action was to create the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project.

The site of Rookwood Weir.
The site of Rookwood Weir. Campbell Gellie

"The Fitzroy is the biggest catchment in the Eastern Seaboard," said Mr Grayson who is also making the trip to Gracemere today.

"This project is thinking more about central Queensland, not just Rockhampton and Gladstone but the whole region."

He said it would provide water security for future industries in Gladstone, Rockhampton would take its allocation, and the rest would be sold to irrigators.

"This will allow farmers to decide what crop they grow instead of having to wait for the wet season and what water allocation they can get," he said.

"It's a regional solution. We're planning for tomorrow by leveraging our regional strengths."

Mr Grayson said he would be "chuffed" to secure the funding today.



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