State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has accused the Palaszczuk Labor Government of being ”progress stiflers”, following an announcement this week that the state plans to reduce the capacity of Paradise Dam at Biggenden (near Bundaberg).
Mr Katter said it was unfathomable that, with almost two thirds of Queensland drought-declared 1, the State Government was prepared to spend money on reducing water storage capacity.
He said rural and regional Queenslanders were desperate to construct dams, not deconstruct them, and this latest decision showed Labor had no real interest in investing in the state’s economic future.
“It seems like the State Government has got the message backwards on this,” he said.
“Here we are, with $230 million in funding from the Federal Government, trying to get the Hughenden Irrigation Project and Hell’s Gate Dam built in the North.
“Further south we’ve got the State Government taking its first real affirmative action on water storage in many years except for the fact that they’re not trying to construct a dam, they’re trying to deconstruct one.
“We’re in severe drought in Queensland, we have towns starring down the barrel of having no water supply and our agricultural industry in the North and the west is on its knees and is completely hamstrung as they can’t irrigate.
“If ever there was time to reflect on the fact we need to conserve and utilise water in large volumes, it’s now.”
Mr Katter said while he understood there were serious concerns from authorities about Paradise Dam’s ability to withstand a major flood, the answer was not to reduce the region’s overall water storage capacity.
“This is the second newest dam in Queensland, and while I am advised there are structural and integrity issues with the way this facility was designed – I hope the State Government doesn’t see lowering the spillway as ‘case closed’,” Mr Katter said.
“The reduction in water supply and capacity will have real flow-on effects to the Rockhampton community and economy, and none of them will be good.
“We know there are some great opportunities in that region with the Coalstoun Lakes Dam and other upstream proposals with weirs and diversions that could make a huge difference in terms regional productivity – we urgently need these pursued.”
Other water projects across North Queensland that are currently in the pipeline, and need State Government backing, include the Nullinga Dam on the Atherton Tablelands, the Urannah Dam near Mackay and the Gilbert River Irrigation
Project in the Etheridge Shire Council area.
There is also a strong push for the Burdekin Falls Dam wall to be raised, however the State Government has so far only committed to completing a business case into this proposal.
1 “Almost two thirds of Queensland now drought declared, The Queensland Government, 1 May, 2019, http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2019/5/1/almost-two-thirds-of-queensland-now-drought-declared