$300M Rocky project's future up in the air: Customers needed
FEDERAL RESPONSE: IN the wake of a major Rookwood Weir development, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has questioned the State's commitment to developing an agricultural corridor.
Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne this morning announced three major stakeholders were fielding potential customer interest to determine if the $300 million project was viable (see initial report below).
The Queensland Government became responsible to assess the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Business Case after the Rookwood Weir water security project was granted approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act on March 2, 2017.
Both Ms Landry and Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canvan said the call out for potential customers comes 11 months after the Coalition Government committed $2 million to the State to complete the business case, and $130 million towards construction.
"I'm glad to see some progress after months and months of frustrating delays, but I don't think there's much doubt that the water would be put to good use in the region. This shouldn't drag on for several more months," Senator Canavan said.
"In 2006 Peter Beattie pledged that the Rookwood Weir would be finished by 2011. I worry that the Queensland Government is stalling in order to push the decision on the weir past the Queensland election. I hope I am proven wrong."
Today's announcement will see Building Queensland, Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB) and Sunwater's move advertise nationally and locally a Request for Information for potential customers to show interest in water supply.
Ms Landry questioned why it had taken so long.
"We can only assume they are purposely delaying because of the election, or that they aren't interested in developing an agricultural corridor that would deliver over 2000 direct jobs," she said.
"I also hope the analysis addresses demand beyond the current domestic market.
"A robust business case will address international demand for crops able to be produced in the region.
"I would anticipate this would be reviewed as future investment opportunities and not just limited to current land use. I hope I am wrong here, but it seems the business case is being approached with tunnel vision."
INITIAL REPORT, 12PM: POTENTIAL customers for the contentious Rookwood Weir project could soon determine if the $300 million water security project is viable.
In a move near certain to inflame a response from the Federal Government, given its ongoing demands the State "get on and build it", Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne today announced three major water stakeholders are fielding potential customer interest.
The Morning Bulletin understands there are currently three potential customers; the Rockhampton Regional Council, Livingstone Shire Council and Gladstone industry.
Rookwood has remained at the centre of a political row between the Australian and Queensland Governments after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the project was the $130 million centrepiece of a $150 million commitment to build Queensland dams.
Mr Byrne last month labelled Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's accusation the State had held up the "shovel ready" project since 2016 as "clearly false", given it had only received approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act on March 2, 2017.
It is now the State's responsibility to assess the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Business Case, which has today taken a vital step forward as Building Queensland, Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB) and Sunwater advertise a Request for Information locally and nationally for parties to submit their interest in water supply.
"Rookwood Weir, located west of Rockhampton, could provide up to 42,000 megalitres of high priority water to support regional agricultural and industrial development," the Minister for Agriculture and Economic Rural Development Mr Byrne said.
"Significant investment in water infrastructure in the region, such as the Rookwood Weir, needs to be supported by sound evidence and careful consideration especially given the major cost that may be required for construction, and is consistent with the Turnbull Government's policy and requirements."
The joint State-Federal Government project is expected to provide up to 400 construction and 2100 ongoing jobs.
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Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey today said the Request for Information was a "critical component" of the demand assessment for water from the proposed Rookwood Weir, and would inform the business case to ultimately determine the feasibility of the project.
"The Palaszczuk Government is committed to undertaking a detailed analysis, and meeting the Turnbull Government's policy and requirements before making a decision and it is great to see the business case taking the next step by gathering this important demand information," Mr Bailey said.
Building Queensland CEO Damian Gould advises anyone interested in water from the Lower Fitzroy River region to use this as an opportunity to identify their potential water requirements now to allow water demand from the proposed Rookwood Weir to be fully understood.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan have been contacted for comment.
Building Queensland is leading the development of the detailed business case in partnership with project proponents GAWB and Sunwater.
The Request for Information closes on May 12, 2017; for more or to participate visit http://www.fitzroyweirs.com.au/businesscase.html.