Rockhampton region councillors (L-R) Neil Fisher, Cherie Rutherford, mayor Margaret Strelow, Ellen Smith, Rose Swadling and Tony Williams.
Rockhampton region councillors (L-R) Neil Fisher, Cherie Rutherford, mayor Margaret Strelow, Ellen Smith, Rose Swadling and Tony Williams. Chris Ison ROK160115ccouncil2

Angry Rocky councillors refute Landry's Rookwood claims

7.45pm: MICHELLE Landry's claim Rockhampton region councillors were "white-anting" Rookwood Weir has them in disbelief, with one councillor stating a "phone call would have sufficed".

The Capricornia MP stated in Parliament today she was "fed up" with a lack of support for the project from Rockhampton councillors and state Labor MPs, including temporary Agriculture Minister Mr Byrne.

Rockhampton region councillors have hit back, stating "all Rockhampton Regional Councillors have been in support of the development of the Rookwood Weir long before the Member for Capricornia became involved".

Only a fortnight ago councillors Rose Swadling and Neil Fisher spoke with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at length about the region's need for Rookwood Weir.

Deputy mayor Cherrie Rutherford stated Ms Landry's statements were a rather dramatic way to commence dialogue when a simple phone call would have sufficed.

Deputy mayor Cherrie Rutherford looks forward to talking with the Member for Capricornia to discuss her concerns and also highlight council's level of commitment to this project over many years. She would like to discuss the additional support required to deliver jobs and wealth creation in this region.

Councillor Ellen Smith said that the Rookwood Weir is nothing new and as a member of the former Fitzroy Shire Council she walked the site 13 years ago.  

"Reports tell us that a Rookwood Weir is the cheapest water storage option, so for goodness sake, just build it," Cr Smith said.

Councillor Tony Williams said he first meet with the Member for Capricornia just after she was first elected and explained the importance of the Fitzroy River Agricultural Corridor study and how Rockhampton Regional Council has had a long-term interest in the development of additional water storages along the Fitzroy River.

While acting Mayor councillor Tony Williams lead a delegation to the community cabinet meeting at the Frenchville State School to meet with Jeff Seeney, highlighting Rockhampton Regional Council's support of additional water storages along the Fitzroy River. 

It was also noted that the Member for Capricornia was asked to join Rockhampton Regional Councillors to inspect a cattle feedlot within the Fitzroy River Agricultural Corridor. Also Rockhampton Regional Council has strongly supported the Growing Central Queensland group. 

All Councillors highlighted the enormous potential that this weir has for the economy of Central Queensland and how vital the extra water storage would be to our Agriculture, Industry and Resources Sectors.

 

 

Rockhampton region mayor Margaret Strelow. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Rockhampton region mayor Margaret Strelow. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK220316astrelow

7pm: MARGARET Strelow has palmed off allegations by Capricornia MP Michelle Landry that some Rockhampton Region councillors had been "white-anting" the Rookwood Weir project.

In a short statement the mayor said the council was right behind the project and had been for more than a decade.

"Rockhampton Regional Council has supported and advocated consistently for Rookwood Weir for the past 15 years," she said.

"I will not be drawn into a political argument between other levels of government.''

2.50pm: Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne has slammed Michelle Landry for her attack on Rockhampton Regional councillors when she accused them of white-anting the Rookwood weir project.

"I am disgusted by Michelle Landry's typically demeaning attack on hard-working CQ councillors," Mr Byrne said this afternoon.

"If she urgently needed an answer about councillors' support, she would approach them with respect and professionalism."

Earlier in Federal Parliament the Member for Capricornia had said she was "fed up" with a lack of support for the project from Rockhampton councillors and state Labor MPs, including temporary Agriculture Minister Mr Byrne.

But Mr Byrne said he did support new weirs and dams but only when the business cases and environmental studies where proven.

He said that process was still underway for Rookwood and reminded Ms Landry that the Federal Government had funded the business case.

"Why pay for a business case, only to disregard its significance?" he said.

"Let's get back to working for the people of CQ, as the Palaszczuk Government is doing by rigorously testing the proposal."

A decision on constructing the weir is not expected until the second half of next year when the State Government completes a business case on its viability.

REVEALED: Why Rookwood Weir business case can't be rushed

 

12.30pm: MICHELLE Landry has given Rockhampton Regional councillors one week to declare their support for the Rookwood Weir or risk losing $132 million in funding for the project.

The Member for Capricornia launched a withering attack on the councillors in Federal Parliament today, saying she had heard some civic leaders had been "white-anting" the project behind closed doors.

She said you either 'want it or you don't' as she called on mayors and individual councillors to 'clearly and unambiguously' state their position on the weir.

Ms Landry did however acknowledge "strong support" for Rookwood from Livingstone Shire Mayor Bill Ludwig and LS councillors.

 

Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig.
Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig. Trinette Stevens

But she said she was "fed up" with a lack of support for the project from Rockhampton civic leaders and state Labor MPs, including temporary Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne.

 

READ: Barnaby Joyce: What more do you need to build Rookwood?

She warned councils not to be complacent about the Rookwood Weir project as the money could be lost to other states.

"The Federal Government has put $132 million on the table for Rookwood Weir. Now we are hearing whispers of white-anting of the project behind closed doors," she said.

"If that is the case then these people risk losing the project forever along with its 2,100 new jobs and the opportunity to double agricultural production to $2 billion a year.

"For nearly 15 years the need for Rookwood Weir was all some councils would talk about. I have been dismayed by the relative silence from some local governments since the Commonwealth announced it would back the Rockhampton, Livingstone and Gladstone communities to the hilt, by paying half the construction costs.

"It's now time for all councillors in CQ to clearly state their current position: there is no middle ground here - either you want Rookwood Weir 100% or you don't. But be clear, there is no other major water project within an hour of Rockhampton that will be funded by the Commonwealth."

 

Matt Burnett, Mayor of the Gladstone region.
Matt Burnett, Mayor of the Gladstone region. The Observer

"You (councillors) are either with the Australian Government on this important project for your region or you are not. And if you aren't supportive, then you should be prepared for the funding to go to another state and explain to your communities why they will miss out on jobs and growth.

"Over the last three years I have worked my guts out to secure $132 million for Rookwood from the Australian Government. Before I came into office, it wasn't even on a single green or white paper to be considered for water funding in Canberra.

"Now it has both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister's full support. But while state Labor dance a political game over our region's future and want to spend the Commonwealth money elsewhere, there is a deafening silence from some key local councils in Central Queensland about the future of Rookwood."

 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Rockhampton to talk about infrastructure spending including the proposed Rookwood Weir. Pictured in the background is Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Rockhampton to talk about infrastructure spending including the proposed Rookwood Weir. Pictured in the background is Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Chris Ison ROK271016cpm2

READ: Transcript of PM and Deputy PM's visit to Rockhampton late last month

Ms Landry said she needed to know by the end of this week if civic leaders across Central Queensland were in favour of the project proceeding.

"Based on historic modelling and today's population trends, the State Department of Environment and Water has already identified that Rockhampton, Livingstone and Gladstone are in danger of running out of water for three years out of every 100 years. A problem Rookwood would resolve.

READ: Queensland Government will lend $15 million for projects meant to be 100% federally funded

"Further to this, Infrastructure Australia has already identified this region as one of four regions across Australia with the potential for significant growth if water infrastructure was put in place here," Ms Landry said.

"These, along with the potential for jobs and $1billion a year in extra agricultural production, are compelling reasons to publicly back support for what the Commonwealth Government is trying to achieve with Rookwood," Ms Landry said.

A decision on constructing the weir is not expected until the second half of next year when the State Government completes a business case on its viability.

REVEALED: Why Rookwood Weir business case can't be rushed

Ms Landry has previously expressed her frustration on this business case time frame saying there had been enough studies completed on the project for it to be approved.

The Morning Bulletin has requested a response from councillors and Mr Byrne.

More to follow.



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