WA­TER WORLD

Kat­ter se­cures Hells Gates funds in PM’s $ 400m NQ cash splash

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - CLARE ARM­STRONG

BOB Kat­ter has se­cured more than $ 200 mil­lion in Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment fund­ing for North Queens­land wa­ter projects.

The Kennedy MP ( above) an­nounced yes­ter­day Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son had com­mit­ted $ 54 mil­lion to Stage 1 of the Hells Gates Ir­ri­gation Scheme and up to $ 180 mil­lion for the Hugh­en­den Ir­ri­gation Scheme. The dams fund­ing came just five days af­ter Mr Mor­ri­son com­mit­ted up to $ 200 mil­lion for Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipe­line to se­cure Townsville’s wa­ter for the next 50 years.

A COM­MON­WEALTH spend­ing spree on wa­ter projects across North Queens­land has been called the “best thing” to hap­pen to Townsville since the Cowboys won an NRL pre­mier­ship.

In a sur­prise an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Kennedy MP Bob Kat­ter re­vealed the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment would com­mit $ 54 mil­lion to Stage 1 of the Hells Gates Ir­ri­gation Scheme and up to $ 180 mil­lion for the Hugh­en­den Ir­ri­gation Scheme. Stage 1 of Hells Gates in­cludes pro­gress­ing stud­ies on the ma­jor dam pro­posal and con­struc­tion of the Big Rocks Weir at Char­ters Tow­ers.

Mr Kat­ter was tri­umphant as he held up a let­ter from Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son con­firm­ing the fund­ing, but de­nied it was as a re­sult of the now- mi­nor­ity Gov­ern­ment need­ing his sup­port from the cross­bench.

“There’ll be those among you … who will say Kat­ter had a gun to the Prime Min­is­ter’s head. Truth of the mat­ter is that the Prime Min­is­ter used Kat­ter to do ex­actly what he wanted to do,” he said.

In the let­ter, seen by the Bul­letin, Mr Mor­ri­son asked Mr Kat­ter to sup­port the Gov­ern­ment on is­sues of con­fi­dence and sup­ply, as well as mo­tions de­signed to “dis­rupt” the House.

“I ac­knowl­edge that you will con­tinue to vote on leg­is­la­tion as you see fit, but ask that you raise any con­cerns with Gov­ern­ment prior to leg­is­la­tion be­ing voted on,” Mr Mor­ri­son said in the let­ter.

In the weeks since the Coali­tion lost the Went­worth by­elec­tion, Mr Kat­ter has re­peat­edly called on the Gov­ern­ment to back his pri­or­i­ties for the North or risk los­ing his sup­port.

North­ern Aus­tralia Min­is­ter Matt Canavan said he and oth­ers in the Gov­ern­ment had been pros­e­cut­ing the case for Hells Gates for many years.

“This is the best week for Townsville since the Cowboys won the ( NRL) pre­mier­ship,” he said.

Sen­a­tor Canavan said the Hugh­en­den scheme would also gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic wealth in the North.

“It’s a ma­jor dam … there’s still a lot of work to do on it, but it’s an­other very ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

North Queens­land- based Sen­a­tor Ian Mac­don­ald said he hoped the State Gov­ern­ment, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over the state’s rivers, would ap­prove Big Rocks Weir.

“It will be a huge boost to the agri­cul­ture in Char­ters Tow­ers,” he said.

Char­ters Tow­ers Mayor Liz Sch­midt said the weir would trans­form the town.

“Our com­mu­nity is over the moon with the fact this op­por­tu­nity for jobs, growth and wa­ter se­cu­rity has been an­nounced,” she said.

LNP can­di­date for Herbert Phillip Thomp­son said the wa­ter projects would pro­vide a huge boost to the Townsville econ­omy.

“All the agri­cul­ture that comes out of Hells Gates will go through the Port of Townsville, and if the port is do­ing well then so is ev­ery­one,” he said. “This isn’t an elec­tion prom­ise, this is de­liv­er­ing for the re­gion.”

The dams fund­ing came just five days af­ter Mr Mor­ri­son com­mit­ted up to $ 200 mil­lion for Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipe­line to se­cure Townsville’s wa­ter sup­ply for the next 50 years.

It’s a ma­jor dam … there’s still a lo t of work to do on it, but it’s an­other very ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity. MATT CANAVAN

IN­SET: Bob Kat­ter ad­dress­ing the me­dia.

ARMY LIFE: Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son meets with 3rd Brigade sol­diers at Lavarack Bar­racks, yes­ter­day.

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