TALKING JOBS: Mount Isa MP Rob Katter, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Police Minister Mark Ryan at a subcommittee meeting in Mount Isa to talk about job opportunities for regional Queensland in March, 2016. Mount Isa Mines is in the background. Photo: Chris Burns.
Queensland PremierAnnastacia Palaszczuk questions the federal government’s plans of developing Northern Australia.
“It’s time the Turnbull Government got this promised funding out the door,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
It has been 600 days since the Federal Government’s policy claims, yet the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) and the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Fund has not yet provided a cent to help regional Queensland, she said.
“My government has even stepped in to provide $15 million to fund feasibility studies for the Turnbull Government’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
She said the state government had done more for regional Queensland through programs such as the $200 million Works for Queensland funding.
The funding is to be spent by local councils that received by funding by November.
She said that 723 projects across Queensland were approved through this week through that program.
The Cooperative Research Centre’s Developing Northern Australia’s interim chair and Richmond mayorJohn Wharton congratulated the state government’s Works for Queensland funding, which Richmond benefits from.
“We really appreciate that they are getting things cranked up really well,” Cr Wharton said.
Yet investors would not commit to infrastructure unless state governments approve water licences. The federal government had limited power.
Cooperative Research Centre’s Developing Northern Australia’s interim chair John Wharton.
The Richmond mayor said there had been talk that the State Government would approve 237,000 Megalitres of water to be taken from the Flinders River. He said that studies showed that 500,000 could be taken.
“Last I heard it was down to 60,000. A lot of people needed that,” Cr Wharton said.
“Without prior approvals the federal government can do nothing. It’s a real issue,” he said.
The O’Connell Creek Water Storage and Irrigation Project would be able to provide 300 jobs for Richmond and mid west Queensland if built. The water licence has not been approved by the state government which therefore hinders development and the efficient export of agricultural products.
“We have the Flinders Highway that can run triple road trains straight to the Port of Townsville,” Cr Wharton said.
“There’s nowhere else I know in Australia you can run directly from a farming area or a mine straight to the port.”
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the state government should approve projects such as the Rookwood Weir –if it was serious about Northern Australia development.
“There have been around 100 project inquiries to the NAIF and 47 are being actively considered,” he said.
“Of those, four projects are in the due diligence phase, which means final checks and balances are underway.
“This is a large chunk of taxpayers’ money and we are making sure it’s spent responsibly.”
Queensland Senator Ian Macdonalddescribed the Premier’s comments as “an act of desperation”.
“The truth of the matter is that the Federal Coalition is now accepting applications for capital funding under the Water Fund and Loan Facility, but the Queensland Government has yet to submit one,” Senator Macdonald said.
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