Katter secures Hells Gates funds in PM’s $ 400m NQ cash splash
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
ARMY LIFE: Prime Minister Scott Morrison meets with 3rd Brigade soldiers at Lavarack Barracks, yesterday.