Water security arrives as Labor steps up
A highly anticipated water security project could soon have the go-ahead after the state government announced a $30m funding injection.
The Big Rocks Weir project, which is expected to provide long-term water security to the Charters Towers community and up to 5000ha of irrigated agricultural land on the Burdekin River, has now secured the full funding required, $60m, from both state and federal governments.Last week, the Townsville Bulletin reported that water security and irrigation was one of the key issues in the Traeger electorate, with the weir a top priority in the Charters Towers community.
The project will capitalise on the business case developed by Townsville Enterprise Limited, which was handed to both the state and federal government on August 21.
The $30m funding was part of multimillion-dollar announcements made by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Townsville.
The irrigation project is expected to pump at least $35m a year in additional agriculture revenue into the economy.
Charters Towers Regional Council Mayor Frank Beveridge said it would be an understatement to say the council was delighted about the Premier's announcement.
He said the project would create more than 400 local full-time jobs post-construction.
"Council looks forward to being appointed the proponent during the construction phase of the Big Rocks Weir project, again pending a favourable business case, to become the 'masters of our own destiny' and ensure job security and economic growth for the Charters Towers Region," Mr Beveridge said.
"We also look forward to becoming the owner/operator on completion of the facility."
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the State Government wanted to insure the investment stacked up and would invest $3m into pre-construction activities.
A further $27m would be allocated to the construction phase. "We want to make sure we can deliver this infrastructure," Mr Dick said.
Townsville Enterprise Ltd has applied to have the project declared a co-ordinated project to streamline its assessment.
Traeger MP Robbie Katter said he was happy to see money on the table but wouldn't rest until construction began. "This is a great step forward but we won't start patting each others back until this is built, until construction starts," he said.
The Katter's Australian Party leader said he wanted construction to begin before the start of the 2020-21 North Queensland wet season.
He said he would also continue to pressure the Premier, and Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham, to fast-track the necessary approvals for the Hughenden Irrigation Project.
"We understand that the Queensland Government now needs to complete and sign a schedule of works, which then allows HIPCO, who are the proponents out at Hughenden, to negotiate a funding contract with the State to have the money released for the detailed business case," Mr Katter said.
Originally published as Water security arrives as Labor steps up