Cash splash to change land­scape eee eee

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CLARE ARM­STRONG clare. arm­strong@ news. com. au

A MULTIMILL I ON- d o l l a r cash splash on wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture in North Queens­land will “trans­form” Townsville and “her­ald a new era” of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the re­gion.

Dur­ing a week- long Queens­land “charm of­fen­sive” Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son com­mit­ted more than $ 430 mil­lion to wa­ter projects near Townsville, Hugh­en­den and Char­ters Tow­ers.

On Sun­day Mr Mor­ri­son an­nounced $ 200 mil­lion for a busi­ness case and the con­struc­tion of Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipe­line project.

By Thurs­day Mr Mor­ri­son had inked a deal with Kennedy MP Bob Kat­ter to com­mit up to $ 180 mil­lion to progress the Hugh­en­den Ir­ri­gation Scheme and $ 54 mil­lion for Stage 1 of the Hells Gates Ir­ri­gation Scheme, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of Big Rocks Weir.

All three projects fall un­der the port­fo­lio of Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and In­fra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Re­gional Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Michael McCor­mack.

“Projects such as Hells Gate Dam and Hugh­en­den Ir­ri­gation Scheme are the types of wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture projects that have the po­ten­tial to her­ald a new era of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and un­lock the po­ten­tial for our re­gions,” Mr McCor­mack said.

Mr McCor­mack said a de­tailed busi­ness case, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment and reg­u­la­tory ap­provals were re­quired to progress the Hugh­en­den scheme to con­struc­tion.

“The de­tails of the fund­ing pack­age are be­ing fi­nalised and will be avail­able soon,” Mr McCor­mack said.

Ac­cord­ing to a fea­si­bil­ity study pro­duced by SMEC ear­lier this year, the Big Rocks Weir is es­ti­mated to cost be­tween $ 30 and $ 50 mil­lion.

Mr McCor­mack said the $ 54 mil­lion Hells Gates com­mit­ment in­cluded a cap­i­tal com­po­nent to “co- fund” the con­struc­tion of Big Rocks Weir, sub­ject to the de­tailed busi­ness case show­ing the project to be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able.

“The Aus­tralian Govern­ment will work with the Queens­land Govern­ment and other stake­hold­ers to agree the most ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive path­way to com­plete the de­tailed busi­ness case, gain re­quired ap­provals and changes to the Burdekin Basin Wa­ter Plan needed to build Big Rocks Weir,” he said.

Mr McCor­mack said the Govern­ment would also work with the state and other stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing Townsville En­ter­prise, to en­sure the “re­quired mix” of fi­nan­cial, en­gi­neer­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal, le­gal and project man­age­ment skills were con­tracted to de­liver the project “on time and to bud­get”.

“The Na­tion­als have long­backed any project which pro­vides wa­ter to em­power re­gional com­mu­ni­ties, strengthen their so­cial and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties and boost growth for vi­tal re­gional in­dus­tries such as agri­cul­ture,” he said. “When the re­gions are strong, so too is the na­tion and wa­ter se­cu­rity is a crit­i­cal el­e­ment of build­ing that strength.”

Premise chair and Townsville busi­ness­man Pat Brady said the projects would spur on ma­jor de­vel­op­ments across North Queens­land.

“I think the lev­els of govern­ment have ac­tu­ally got the un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ent projects fairly right,” he said.

“One of the rea­sons that’s

North­ern Aus­tralia Min­is­ter Matt Cana­van and Char­ters Tow­ers Re­gional Coun­cil Mayor Liz Sch­midt visit the pro­posed site of Big Rocks Weir in De­cem­ber, 2016.

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