Is CQ's 13-year Rookwood Weir wait almost over?
OPINION by Adam Wratten
IN December 2004 the Queensland Government, in partnership with local government, committed to developing the Central Queensland Regional Water Supply Strategy, a long-term water supply strategy for the region.
While no-one expects these projects to happen overnight, it does seem to have taken an awfully long time to advance.
Now, more than 13 years after the Peter Beattie-led Queensland Government announced its commitment to the strategy which would "provide the appropriate reliability of supply to meet the needs of urban populations, industry and agriculture”, it seems we are within a whisker of finding out if the state will cough up the $130m it's being asked to for a weir at Rookwood.
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham yesterday said he would release the results of a business case into the weir this month. That should be the trigger to see which direction the state will head.
With the Federal Government keen to get the project done, all eyes are on the Queensland Government which has repeatedly said the project needs to stand up and offer value for money.
Mr Lynham says "the taxpayers of Central Queensland will be able to do the sums themselves” - should we read anything into this line?
I think we all accept the world has changed much in the past decade, with changes of government and priorities and a major economic downturn hurting Central Queensland industry.
But, I can't help but think this project has not been sitting at the top of the government's to-do list.
Let us compare Rookwood to the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane - a project there seems to be great enthusiasm for.
First proposed in 2010, this project, according to the Queensland Government is its "highest priority infrastructure project”.
In June, the government committed to fully fund the Cross River Rail project.
The 2017-2018 State Budget allocated $2.8 billion for Cross River Rail with a further $2.6 billion committed over subsequent years (that would pay the government's share for more than 40 Rookwood Weirs).
Currently the tender process for this work is in progress with everything to be completed by 2024. Ironically, this start to finish date is a similar period of time that things have currently being going on Rookwood.
Cross River Rail will remove a future rail bottleneck by doubling the capacity across the Brisbane River and allowing more trains to run more often along major train lines.
Rookwood Weir will provide Central Queensland with water security. Both are job generators.
Oh, if only we were the Queensland Government's number one priority.
And wouldn't it be nice to think that we're a priority as well in Canberra, where the Turnbull Government is moving in a go-slow fashion on a South Rockhampton flood levee.