The “dam-phobic” and “anti-development” Palaszczuk Labor Government has surprised no one today with its announcement that it will not build the Bradfield Scheme, or any of its revised versions, Katter’s Australian Party MPs have said.

KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said, after close to a century of holding out hope for an irrigated future, the people of drought-addled western Queensland had been dealt a devastating blow by the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s unquestioning acceptance of the Bradfield Regional Assessment and Development Panel Report (the Report).

The Report, released today and referred to by the KAP as being authored by a “suicide squad”, has claimed that Dr John Bradfield’s 1938 scheme to drive water from the coastal rivers to barren inland Queensland was fatally flawed in that it totally overestimated the region’s water availability.

The Report also lashed the Bradfield Scheme, and its many revised versions, as uneconomically viable and likely to be ham-strung by red and green tape, including cultural and climatic concerns.

Mr Katter said the Report findings, like those released last year by CSIRO for the National Water Grid Authority, were unsurprising and were dripping in an anti-development rhetoric that aligns with the Government of the day.

“Show me a study that has been completed in the last 20 years that the Government has commissioned that hasn’t fundamentally agreed with or supported their agenda,” he said.

“There is absolutely no question that the Palaszczuk Labor Governments agenda is to ‘stop all dams’, particularly in North Queensland – this Report was never going to be contrary to this.

“I will be very interested to pour over the chapter of the Report that identifies how much value you add when you provide water to those millions of acres of black soil plains, which are already naturally cleared and levelled – you increase their productivity by a factor of four, and that’s before you quantify the employment benefits, and the total direct and indirect economic benefits.

“I want to see the chapter of the report that convinces me that this amounts to nothing, and is not in the national interest.

“On the topic of cost-benefit analysis, such as is being used in this case to kill off the Bradfield Scheme, show me the equal degree of scrutiny that has been applied to the Cross River Rail project that has gone from an original cost of $5.4 bill to possibly up to $11 billion on completion and the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games.

“This is a devastating, but not a final, blow for all people and communities west if the Great Divide; this is our one opportunity as a nation to have a great project that can unlock the potential that we have and thanks to small-minded politician and bureaucrats it will remain untapped.

“Someone’s going to untap this potential one day and if we’re too stupid to realise the opportunity that’s in front of us, perhaps we deserve what we get.”

KAP Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, who has dedicated much of his personal and professional life to advancing Dr Bradfield’s vision said the Report – like the work issued previously by CSIRO – was a farce.

“The calibre of the people who have declared their support to Bradfield include: Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier Peter Beattie.

“The people who drew up the Revised Bradfield Scheme have built more dams than any other group of people in Australian history – CSIRO, for example, has never built a single dam.

“The modern state of Queensland, that we all enjoy today, was created by two supporters of the Bradfield Scheme: Sir Leo Hielscher and Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

“They created the tourism industry out of nothing, they created the coal industry at a time when we were a net-importer of coal, they create the aluminium processing industry, they doubled our cattle numbers – these men were giants.”

Mr Katter Senior agreed with his son that the Government’s commitment to cost-benefit analyses was alarmingly selective and served a political agenda over a practical one.

The MPs said the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s decision to raise Burdekin Falls Dam wall height by a measly two metres, as opposed to pursuing a 6 or 14.6m raise or the Bradfield Scheme, only further highlighted the anti-development rhetoric that dictates decision-making in Brisbane.

“I surmise that if North Queensland was not literally going to perish by 2031 when water demand in the Burdekin region exceeds supply, then no decision to raise the dam wall height would have been taken at all,” Mr Katter Junior said.


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