Call for water rethink
KATTER SAYS HELLS GATE PLAN ‘LAZY’, ‘ARROGANT’
NORTH Queensland MP Bob Katter has accused economic lobby group Townsville Enterprise of using public money he secured to assess the wrong dam scheme.
But Townsville Enterprise chief executive Claudia Brumme-smith says that its priority, in managing the Hells Gates dam studies, is securing water for North Queensland.
The Kennedy MP, who has long dreamt of a Bradfieldstyle water scheme to irrigate the western plains, is dismayed at the direction of studies assessing the viability of a 2100 gigalitre dam at Hells Gates on the Burdekin River.
It would support 50,000ha of high value cropping along the Burdekin River and an up to 850MW pumped storage hydro-electricity scheme.
Mr Katter, who helped author a revised Bradfield scheme in the 1980s, says Townsville Enterprise is using $24m he secured when he held the balance of power in the parliament “to betray the people of North Queensland and Australia”.
He says a Hells Gate dam can open country southwest of Charters Towers, not along the Burdekin River, and that a portion of waters from the Upper Herbert, South Johnstone and Tully rivers can be turned inland to irrigate the blacksoil plains in the midwest in North and Central Queensland.
“TEL and (consultants Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation) are operating with a combination of
inertia born out of laziness and arrogance, which brooks no interference from reality or the people of Australia,” Mr Katter said.
He said he would meet with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce this month to “get the project back on track”.
“Barnaby Joyce is on the side of the angels, and he has clearly and proactively served notice on the individuals involved in destroying the long-held dreams of the Australian people who want to see the Bradfield scheme built,” Mr Katter said.
TEL with SMEC managed the delivery of a feasibility study in 2018 and is now nearing completion of a $24m business case for the federal government.
The course for the business case appears to have been set during the feasibility stage under a leadership group comprising Charters Towers Regional Council, Townsville City Council and the TEL board.
Ms Brumme-smith said she appreciated people were passionate about water security.
“Water is getting more and
more precious and Townsville North Queensland needs to secure water for its population growth, sustainable agriculture, advanced manufacturing and new green energy production,” she said.
“Our priority is securing water for North Queensland, not anywhere else.
“Our region receives a sixweek downpour once a year that we want to see that captured and utilised to supply our communities and industries. Hells Gates can do just that.”
Ms Brumme-smith said Townsville Enterprise was
working to have a dam development off the ground that was feasible, financially viable, and to a scale that ticked the boxes for all stakeholders and all levels of government.
“Reaching the right scale and financial feasibility is something all stakeholders are working on together to achieve with Hells Gates,” she said. “We are facing the most stringent environmental laws than ever seen before, which is why the first dam to be built in 60 years needs to be a scalable and economically viable project.”