Grand dam plan that could revitalise the state
A MULTIBILLION-dollar plan to create a series of green dams and irrigation channels across Queensland has been proposed by two of the state's most successful corporate warriors.
Sir Leo Hielscher and Sir Frank Moore said their updated Bradfield Scheme would open vast areas of the state to high-value food and fibre production while creating renewable hydroelectric power and saving the Great Barrier Reef from pollution.
And it would ensure the Murray-Darling river system never ran dry, boosting the nation's food security.
The cost of the Hielscher-Moore plan would be approximately $15 billion. Sir Leo and Sir Frank said the impact of last month's catastrophic Queensland floods would have been lessened had the infrastructure been in place.
In a stellar career in the public service, Sir Leo kick-started the Queensland coal industry, built ports and highways and set the state on the path to prosperity.
Sir Frank is noted as a media tycoon with a deep roots in regional Queensland and the tourism industry.
The knights' plan has the backing of senior Morrison Government figures, and they have been working on their "pre-feasibility" plan for four years. They agreed their project was a concept that would take 20 years to bring to life.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the plan could protect Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia from drought, while creating national wealth where there was none before.
Mr Joyce said it was a nation-building project that should be given the same national significance as the National Broadband Network and the Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Rail project. He said most Australians were ignorant of the vast amounts of water that ran into the Gulf after monsoonal downpours in northern Australia.
Mr Joyce said Sir Leo, 92, and Sir Frank, 88, had to be congratulated for their outstanding updated concept.
Si Leo and Sir Frank called for the establishment of a Queensland Northern Rivers Authority, similar to the Snowy Mountains Authority established in 1949.
They said the project would not be a burden on taxpayers, with water sold to councils, irrigators, graziers and industry, and with additional revenue from the hydro project and, ultimately, Murray-Darling water users.
They said the recent Federal Government approvals for the Hells Gate Dam on the Burdekin River should be "stage one" of their project.
However, the pair believed the Hells Gate project was not ambitious enough and recommended the dam wall be raised to at least 122m to allow gravity-fed water to flow to the fertile black-soil country west of Charters Towers to Richmond Downs.
"That would be the beginning of a very large export horticultural industry," Sir Leo said.
Stage two of the Hielscher-Moore plan envisages surplus water from the Thomson River being fed to the Warrego River which is the start of the Murray-Darling system.