Jan 25, 2021

Political water fight over dam delays

Political water fight over dam delays

Kennedy MP Bob Katter has praised a call by Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the Queensland Government to build more critical dams to revive the economy.

Mr Katter said he shared the PM’s frustration that the State Government seemed to be dragging its heels over the development of regional Queensland including Hells Gates and the Hughenden dam.

“If you, the Queensland Government cannot figure out whether you should or should not build a dam in Hughenden you are not a Government, you are a joke. Hear me now, this battle to populate inland Australia will be fought in Hughenden, it will absolutely be won or lost at Hughenden,” he said.

But Mr Katter said the Federal Government was also guilty of dragging its heels.

“There is seven to 10 years of process involved in assessments and feasibility studies for development projects in this country,” he said. “They burn up money and time.”

State Water Minister Glenn Butcher said delivering water infrastructure remained a priority for the Palaszczuk Government.

The State Government had committed $1.2 billion to water infrastructure across the state since 2017, delivering more than 2300 jobs, he said. 

“Our government is leading the construction of water infrastructure in Queensland,” he said.

“Construction is underway at the workers camp for Rookwood Weir to house up to 250 staff. Currently 52 people are working to construct the camp or are engaged in preliminary activities at the weir site, including surveying, environmental science, cultural heritage, drilling and construction.

“Sunwater has already delivered the $2.2 million Capricorn Highway intersection upgrade at Gogango to provide safe access for large earth-moving machinery and construction vehicles travelling to the weir site.”

He said also the $195 million being invested in the Haughton Pipeline project would improve water security in Townsville and was creating hundreds of local jobs.

The government had provided a special advance on funds for Emu Swamp Dam in February last year to allow Granite Belt Water to start early works, he said.

“And we’ve committed $42.5 million towards the Bundaberg Flood Levee but we’re waiting on a matching commitment from the Morrison Government,” Mr Butcher said.

“We are preserving the proposed Nullinga Dam site in Far North Queensland and pursuing alternative water supply options for the Far North.     

“We have made the proposed Urannah Dam a coordinated project and given the green light for the next stage of assessment.  

“The only thing the LNP did while in government was to can a dam – the Connors River Dam – and prepare dams for sale.”  

State Opposition spokeswoman for Water and the Construction of Dams Deb Frecklington urged the government to bring forward job-creating dam projects.

“The LNP has long had an ambitious dam building and water infrastructure agenda, and would support any moves to fast track development,” she said.

“These projects would provide more certainty to our regions who are still suffering from years of severe drought. Water is critical to Queensland’s future.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vented frustration at dam construction delays.