Representatives from three levels of government have unveiled a foundation stone representing the future site of the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme.
The Hughenden Irrigation Project Corporation (HIPCo) is continuing to advance the project after a funding pledge of $180 million from Prime Minister Scott Morrison late last year.
A dam would be built about 15km north of Hughenden in the upper catchment of the Flinders River and is expected to allow for the irrigation of more than 10,000ha of farmland.
KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter was flanked by State counterpart Robbie Katter, Assistant Minister for Roads Scott Buchholz and Sir Leo Hielscher at the Riverside Station event.
Mr Katter praised the HIPCo Board in his speech and said that the irrigation scheme would turn around Hughenden and other western towns.
“This is a board that is made up of businessmen. They are doing the work themselves, they are owner operators and the worker operators as well. They are ordinary blokes doing something to ensure their survival,” he said.
“We will divide this area of 10,000ha up into 100 or so farms for people to graze and fatten cattle year-round and instead of running 7-8 ox to a hectare we run 20-30 to a hectare.
“Process is what bogs these projects down. If you can’t make a decision on a simple matter like a dam at Hughenden then you are not the Government of Australia.
“I don’t want to assume that the state government is hostile to these projects but if they get in our way then I will kick ‘em to death. “
Sir Leo, who was Treasury Corporation chair for 22 years, flew from Brisbane to attend the event and spoke of its importance to the Queensland region.
“Really I haven’t been out of retirement, I haven’t started that yet. But I have for many, many years had the old Bradfield Scheme modified in my sights. During my career I had a lot of things like that and I seemed to achieve most of them except this one and I see what we have seen today as the model for the big scheme that we are talking about.”