“I want our drought-affected graziers to get their share of the Federal Government’s $35 million scheme by capitalising on the program with solar energy projects and I have written to Minister Joyce to suggest it.
“Whilst we would like more money in this package to deliver large infrastructure projects like roads, with this small amount of funding, we need to get creative and pick projects that are going to directly impact on graziers’ back pockets,” Mr Katter said.
He sees it as a golden opportunity for cash-strapped graziers and businesses to power bores and buildings with solar panels.
“Shovel-ready projects, such as a solar panel scheme will provide significant relief in the bush where their power costs are high and some of them aren’t even on the national grid.”
Mr Katter said the cost to purchase and install a solar unit to power a bore is approximately $20,000, and for a house and outbuildings, approximately $80,000.
He said it was also an opportunity for graziers to partner with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), whose CEO, Oliver Yates has just visited Mount Isa with the Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter.
“Mr Yates was here to look at possible funding opportunities, and this solar power scheme would fit the clean energy criteria perfectly.
“CEFC has just partnered with National Australia Bank, providing $120m in funding for both small and large scale energy projects, including agribusinesses wanting to improve irrigation systems with interest rates 0.7% lower than its standard rate.”
Mr Katter also said there was an opportunity for local councils to drive this initiative, and apply for State government funding available to stimulate industry and jobs.
“The scheme could be limited to local vendors and local electricians and suppliers only, so regional businesses get the benefit as well.”
Local graziers had told him there was never a problem with solar powered bores.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to make the most of this offer from the Federal Government and minimise costs for cattle producers who are facing very difficult financial circumstances,” he said.
Mr Katter said he was keen to hear from anyone on cattle properties who were interested in the scheme and encouraged them to contact his offices in Cloncurry or Mount Isa.