Byrne: Building Queensland Rookwood process simply 'good government'

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  • Rookwood Weir has been a priority for the region's politicians for almost 20 years
  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced $130 million for Rookwood in the election campaign, plus $2 million for the business case
  • Building Queensland, responsible for the business case, expects it to be completed by late 2017
  • The Federal Government believes the business case should be completed sooner
  • The Environmental Impact Statement is in final stages of review

3PM: ROCKHAMPTON MP Bill Byrne has responded to Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's rejection of Building Queensland's explanation for the business case timeline for Rookwood Weir.

"I have laid out the facts of this project previously,” he said.

"The contemporary facts are already in the public domain.

"It's interesting to note, the LNP announced $2 million for the study at the same time as the election commitment was made for $130 million, as reported by The Morning Bulletin.

"A business case is not a ceremonial activity. It is a rigorous test of a proposal to examine the merits or otherwise of such a project.

"Queensland Labor deliberately set up Building Queensland processes so as to ensure the independent merits of capital projects. This is what good government does.

"Frankly, the process is understood by all - with some notable exceptions.

"It is ludicrous to think anyone, particularly a government behind a project worth millions of dollars, would base business decisions on factors from 2006, a time prior to the global financial crisis - a crisis that never happened according to the LNP leader at the time in Queensland.

"It is also extremely relevant to acknowledge Infrastructure Australia's assessment of these projects.

"Their assessment this year is that these projects are nowhere near being shovel ready, as I have pointed out in the Queensland Parliament.

"I have always offered in-principle support for on-stream storages, where the business cases and Environmental Impact Statements supported them. None of the current hyperbole changes my view.

"Perhaps the real question is on what contemporary basis did the Liberal National Party decide to invest in this project?

"Perhaps rather than continuing this discussion, the Liberal National Party might like to unveil Beef Roads funding that have been discussed for a very long time?

"The only people doing anything for the beef industry is the Palaszczuk Government, as evidenced with road trains in Rockhampton.

"We will get on with delivering viable projects that add value to industry.”

11AM: AGRICULTURE minister Barnaby Joyce and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry have rejected Building Queensland's explanation that rigorous investigation is needed to form the business case for Rookwood Weir.

Ms Landry said Business Queensland was "a convenient skirt” for Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga "to hide behind for failing to lobby harder” for Rookwood.

Mr Joyce and Ms Landry last week accused the State Government of stalling the project, which has been discussed by the region's politicians for nearly 20 years.

EXPLAINED: Why the Rookwood Weir business case can't be rushed

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne hit back, saying the business case would be finalised in late 2017 with Rookwood only this year being listed as a medium-term project for Queensland.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced $130 million for Rookwood during the election campaign, but the funding was conditional on the business case being developed showing the project was viable.

Following the election, Building Queensland was appointed to the project and said it would combine a number of previous technical studies with new information to form the "formal business case”.

Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project, Rookwood Weir.
Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project, Rookwood Weir. SunWater and Gladstone Area Wate

Building Queensland told The Morning Bulletin the formal business case was now underway but its start date had to wait until the Coalition was returned to government and could not be accelerated given the considerable detail needed to form an accurate argument for the project.

But Ms Landry said the time frame for the business case completion (at last nine months) was too long considering all the previous ground work.

She referred to a 2006 promise by then-Queensland Premier Peter Beattie to build Rookwood by 2011.

"The year he made that commitment, is also the year Anastasia Palaszczuk - now current Labor Premier - was elected to parliament,” she said.

"So, essentially, she was elected on a Labor promise to all Queenslanders to have Rookwood Weir built by 2011.

"If Peter Beattie can promise Rookwood Weir to be finished by 2011 - surely there must have been enough studies and consultations conducted to satisfy the Premier of the same party, today, it is warranted.”

The Morning Bulletin is seeking a response from the relevant departments of the Queensland Government.

Topics:  barnaby joyce bill byrne brittany lauga michelle landry rookwood rookwood weir

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