'Significant' water infrastructure boost for Flynn
IT'S been labelled as "a significant, historic investment in regional Australia" and also a "cop out", depending on what side of the political aisle you hear from.
The announcement yesterday that the Federal Government has committed $2million for a feasibility study into options for infrastructure to increase water supply and security in the North and South Burnett has been met with scepticism from some quarters.
Visiting Gladstone in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister while Scott Morrison was in Papua New Guinea for the annual APEC meeting, Michael McCormack joined Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd for the announcement.
It came after they announced a commitment to construct a $5.8 million intermodal freight site, complete with a 1.5km industrial access road at Yamala, near Emerald.
Mr McCormack said the feasibility study formed part of a more than $500million expansion of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
"That will create new pipelines and new dams to drought-proof regional Australia and to make sure we have the flood mitigation for regional Australia," he said.
"This is a significant, historic investment in regional Australia making sure that we've got water when we need it."
Asked what benefit the announcement had for Gladstone, Mr McCormack said the Port of Gladstone would reap the rewards.
"This is a place of industry and commerce. The port here at Gladstone is very busy and we want to make it even busier," he said.
"We want to make sure this port has more ships taking out the best food and fibre that this nation and region can produce and by adding water infrastructure money you do just that."
Mr O'Dowd said the funding boost had the ability to help drive economic and social growth in regional Queensland. "This is a good announcement for the North and South Burnett regions where we have $2 million - $1 million each for North and South Burnett - for them to conduct water feasibility studies," he said.
"I've already had contact from mayors in the North and South Burnett shires who welcome the announcement wholeheartedly.
"This is something they need, the farming land is there and all we need is water."
Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers pulled no punches when hitting out at the timing of the announcement.
"The LNP and the Member for Flynn have had years and years to do something about this region's water security," Mr Beers said.
"Now, months out from an election, they serve up another study.
"It's a cop out."
Mr Beers said Labor supported the NWIDF, but questioned the Coalition's commitment to water security in Central Queensland and criticised the lack of Gladstone-specific funding announcements.
"This is the second time in a fortnight a Prime Minister or Acting Prime Minister has come to Gladstone and not announced a cent for the people here," he said.
"If the LNP are going to talk big about water security in Central Queensland, and they are serious about supporting our producers' ability to access global markets, they need to step up and match our commitment for the next stage of the Port Access Road.
"The Port Access Road will be a vital part of the road train access network linking producers to markets across the world through the Port of Gladstone."