Cash splash to change landscape eee eee
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