Barnaby Joyce: What more do you need to build Rookwood?
WHAT more do you need, "the archangel Gabriel to descend from heaven and tell us it's the right thing to do, the planets to align, the muses to rise up from the ground and tell us to move"?
This was Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce's passionate plea to the State Government to approve the Rookwood Weir.
He was responding to a reporter's reminder during a Rockhampton press conference that the Queensland Government was insisting a "formal business case" was needed for the project.
Mr Joyce has previously accused the State of stalling on the project which is projected to inject $1 billion annually into Central Queensland's economy through export opportunities and certainty of high-value crops.
Mr Joyce urged the Palaszczuk Government to "get moving" on the project the Federal Government pledged $130 million for during the election after touring an Alton Downs farm with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The two leaders were here to announce an additional $440m to "break ground" on key water projects across Australia with the release of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF) guidelines.
"Under the NWIDF, we have already made available almost $60 million to expedite the planning work needed to get major projects shovel-ready and now we are making $440 million available for capital works to get priority projects built as quickly as possible," they said in a joint statement.
Mr Joyce's swipe at the state about the Rookwood delay adds to weeks of sniping between the two levels of government over why the project could not proceed until a business case was finalised late next year.
Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne last week told The Morning Bulletin the "rigorous test" of the proposal was simply good government, with major infrastructure unable to be built based on factors from a decade ago.
But Mr Turnbull yesterday said his government was "serious" about what was "plainly an economically viable" and "critical" project.
Mr Joyce wants to see Rookwood construction underway as soon as possible, saying the Federal Government was "ready to roll now".
In response to comments from Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce, Queensland Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said the business case for both Rookwood Weir and the raising of the Eden Bann Weir was underway
"Commonwealth funding, under the NWIDF, was always approved by Barnaby Joyce for a business case that would look at both options to allow both governments to make an informed decision regarding the future of the project," he said.
"Ultimately, the business case will ascertain the best way to achieve the optimal water supply solution for the region.
"This project represents a potentially significant investment into water infrastructure in the region and careful consideration is prudent given the financial contribution that may be required from both ... governments.
"Once the business case is completed, the Palaszczuk Government will be in a position to make an informed decision on further development of water infrastructure on the lower Fitzroy River."