Sep 26, 2020

Dam debate as State election looms

Dam debate as State election looms

The Hughenden Irrigation Project is at the centre of a political row, with Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter demanding that the State just “sign the dam project off.”

The Federal Government has already approved funding for a detailed business case to develop the potential $500 million Hughenden water project.

The Hughenden Irrigation Project Corporation (HIPCo) received approval for the next phase to go ahead after submitting a preliminary business case in March which showed the scheme was viable.

Mr Katter, KAP leader, called for Queensland Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham to ‘sidestep the bureaucracy’ and sign off on an agreement which would see HIPCo enter the Detailed Business Case phase immediately.

With an election pending, he feared the project could be delayed beyond the next six months.

“There are only two weeks left of opportunity for the State Government to get off their backsides and approve the Federal Government money that was given to them (they haven’t put a cent into it) to do the job it was put there to do,” he said.

“A group of businessmen in Hughenden formed a corporation and they have got the engineering plan drawn up – they weren’t given the resources, they did it themselves. And they have done everything asked of them, and more.

“Get off your backsides and approve the Hughenden Detailed Business Case now or otherwise we get caught up in an election here and then a Federal Government election next year and before you know it it’s another 12 months, no dams and $15 million burnt up on process.”

Dr Lynham said he was working through, as a priority, a bilateral schedule of water infrastructure funding from the Federal Government, which included funds for the Hughenden irrigation project.

“I expect this to be resolved shortly and progress is then up to the proponent,” he said.

Dr Lynham said the Palaszczuk Government appreciated the importance of water security and that was why it had committed $1.2 billion to water infrastructure since 2017 – including $30 million to build Big Rocks Weir.