Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Resources Matt Canavan at Spinnaker Park yesterday.
Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Resources Matt Canavan at Spinnaker Park yesterday. Mike Richards GLA180119ACPM

Acting PM in town as water infrastructure funds open

ACTING Prime Minister Michael McCormack was in Gladstone yesterday urging state and territory governments to apply for a share of $500million in water infrastructure project funds.

Applications open Monday for the boost, which was announced in November as part of the expanded capital component of the federal National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Mr McCormack said the funds would allow for more co-investments with regional projects to strengthen water security and further economic growth.

"I call on the states to bring forward their projects. I call on organisations like SunWater to push the states to do that as well,” Mr McCormack said.

"If our regions have access to more secure water supplies our towns can prosper and our agricultural industries can thrive.

"It is now absolutely essential for state and territory governments to get on board.”

Minister for Resources Matt Canavan said parts of the region were experiencing 'a terrible drought' and more 'money on the table' would enable more dam construction.

"It's incredibly important we continue to invest in water security (for) when the next drought comes,” Mr Canavan said.

"I now call on the Queensland Government to get serious about the Rookwood project outside Rockhampton.

"And to support other important water projects throughout the state, including the Pinnacles Dam, Urannah Dam and the Connors River project.”

Regarding the $352-million Rookwood Weir project, Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said he was disappointed by the rate at which work was progressing.

"I thought the State Government was going to start early this year but maybe now with conversations going on with SunWater and the State Government it'll be early next year, which is very disappointing, I feel, considering I thought everything was in place to start that project,” Mr O'Dowd said.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Mr O'Dowd had unrealistic expectations if he thought a project such as Rookwood Weir could "get started in five minutes”.

"This is a major project with many stakeholders including SunWater,” Mr Butcher said.

"Ken O'Dowd needs to stop politicising and bagging this project before it even starts”.

The weir will be built 60km southwest of Rockhampton to provide water certainty for Central Queensland.

In September Mr Butcher said the weir, once constructed, would annually provide up to 76,000 megalitres of industrial and urban water throughout Gladstone and the Capricorn Coast, including 42,000ML for agricultural and commercial use.

Also in September the State Government provided written commitment to work with the Federal Government to finalise a project structure.

The weir is expected to deliver an estimated 2100 jobs and expand irrigated agricultural production in the Lower Fitzroy region by up to $1billion yearly.

As of September the state and federal governments were hoping to see work start during this year's dry season and be finished by late 2021.

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