Byrne gets dam angry after Rookwood project update
BILL Byrne walked into a meeting with Building Queensland last week for an update on the controversial business case for the Rookwood Weir project.
But any hope there might be grounds to fast-track the study for the $300m weir were quickly dashed when the Member of Rockhampton walked out.
"There are those who think that the State Government should now commit to spend $150 million-plus on the vague notion that the weir will create some construction jobs and provide more water for regional industry and agriculture," the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development said in a letter to the editor on the weekend (see pages 14-15).
"Building Queensland confirmed my view that it would be unwise to make assumptions without hard evidence and thorough research. Those who think the Palaszczuk Government is stalling on an important infrastructure project are either crazy, naive or reckless - or all three."
However, he still supports a weir at Rookwood if the independent study finds the project stacks up.
"The weir will go ahead if local government, industry and agriculture need the water and are willing to pay for it," he said.
"I am confident that Building Queensland is on track to produce a comprehensive independent assessment of the proposal. I have impressed upon them that many people in our region are waiting for their verdict and we need it as soon as possible."
Mr Byrne has been under fire from the Federal Government, which pledged $130m towards the weir project during the election campaign and had been calling on the State to approve the weir so construction and 2000 projected jobs over 10 years could start flowing from the proposed Fitzroy River Agricultural Corridor.
Mr Byrne was not available yesterday to provide further insight into the business case or an updated time frame but recent reports suggest it could be finished August 2017.
A clearly frustrated Member for Capricornia Michele Landry yesterday said that given the work already done on the weir project she was "amazed" it could take so long.
Ms Landry said the region desperately needed new jobs.
"We went out to Larry Acton's place and they (farmers/graziers in the area) are very keen for us to move forward," she said about a recent excursion to the weir site.
"I talk to a lot of people in the agricultural sector and a lot of nations are keen for us to export our food and produce to them as Australia has a very good reputation for clean and fresh food.
"Sure, you have to have all the ticks and crosses, but I feel Labor is dragging the chain on this. I want this started by mid year rather than having to wait for a decision in August."
Ms Landry will ask Building Queensland to provide a briefing on the business case for herself, Member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd and Senator Matthew Canavan.