Uncertainty over project funding
ROOKWOOD WEIR IN THE SPOTLIGHT AS 2018 STARTS WITH GROUND-BREAKING BUSINESS CASE REVEAL
Key considerations in the business case included; water demand, water pricing, funding and financing models, delivery and operating models, and costs, risks and benefits associated with the proposed infrastructure.
Last December, the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, foreshadowed that the figure of $260 million needed to build Rookwood Weir was outdated because it was based on a 10-year-old Environmental Impact Statement.
This proved to be true when Dr Lynham visited Rockhampton in early January to release the business case and revealed that the true cost of building Rookwood Weir was $352 million – $92 million more than the initial estimate.
He said the Rookwood Weir project was not viable if the Federal Government was unwilling to add more funds to its existing $130 million commitment.
“Without a fair contribution from Canberra, the price of the water will be too high for farmers and other potential users,” Dr Lynham said.
“Go back to your bosses in Canberra with this business case and bring more funds to the table.”
Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan indicated a strong willingness to progress the project as quickly as possible, citing his duty of care to Rockhampton and Gladstone, whose water supply was vulnerable after only one hypothetical missed wet season.
Senator Canavan said the easiest way forward would be for the Queensland Government to put forward a detailed application requiring an equal contribution from State and Federal governments.
“We want to get the price down to meet the market. They think through this business case that will require more money from us to do that,” he said.
“We’ve got more than $7 billion to spend on water infrastructure so of course we’ll consider any application from the Queensland Government.
“Let’s work it out, let’s just do it, I’m sick of all the to and fro.”
Senator Canavan has spoken with Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce (Rookwood Weir falls under his responsibility) and he expressed a willingness to consider a 50:50 arrangement with the Queensland Government for the new price, which would work out at $176 million each.
“If they don’t want to put up their 50 per cent, then it’s a lot harder. We’ll have to go away and think about what we can do,” he said.
“We’re open for business on water, we’re open to their application if it’s 50:50 and we’ll do everything we can to secure the water supply for Central Queensland.”
An infrastructure-project-hungry CQ currently awaits an amended federal funding offer.
Once it comes, the region will sweat on whether the Queensland Government will match it.
PROJECT STALLED: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga, Minister for Natural Resources Dr Anthony Lynham and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke released the business case for the Rookwood Weir project last month.
Rookwood Weir site.