Muddy truth behind the redesign of Rookwood Weir
IT’S a battle at the highest level between the Queensland Premier and the Australian Prime Minister and neither is backing down.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk insists the PM told her on July 12 there would be no more money for Rookwood Weir.
The Prime Minister’s office insists he never said it.
No formal application for further funds was ever made and the Queensland Government has progressed plans to redesign the weir, with a reduced capacity based on a $200 million cost blow out.
A letter from the Premier to the PM sent on August 7, said “the intention is to proceed with this $352 million project on the basis of your advice that the Commonwealth will not be providing additional funds”.
The Morning Bulletin sent a copy of the letter to the PM’s office, but the response was unwavering.
“No, he did not,” a spokeswoman said.
“The Queensland Premier did not request additional funding for Rookwood Weir when she met with the Prime Minister on the 12th of July, 2019 or subsequently.”
The claims have baffled Ms Palaszczuk who received a response to from the PM thanking her for her support for water infrastructure projects, in particular for her commitment to deliver Rookwood Weir.
“Why did the Prime Minister not dispute the Premier’s summary of his funding comments when he replied to her letter?” a spokesperson said.
While both sides dispute what was said in the meeting, Naturalo Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the conversation lead to the redesign of the weir.
Dr Lynham said the State Government had been left with little option but to redesign the dam without gates after the price of concrete, structural stability issues and complex fish stocks caused prices to surpass the budget.
No formal application was ever made to the Federal Government for additional funds but Ms Palaszczuk said if Mr Morrison did not say there would be no further funding, “then the state would welcome further funding”.
Dr Lynham penned a letter to Mr Morrison this week, asking for the Federal Government to advance funds for the project.
In the letter, Dr Lynham said the Federal Government could prevent delays by advancing the funds.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said she doesn’t want to see anymore delays.
“We wanted the excavators working long before now,” Ms Landry said.
“We want to see Rookwood Weir up and running and benefiting the people of Central Queensland as soon as possible.”
She said the State Government needed to be transparent with plans and costings.
“Given the information recently provided by Minister Lynham and Sunwater as to the change in cost of the project and the proposed change in design, the joint partnership agreement has not been settled yet,” she said.
With no final design for the $352 project, Dr Lynham said there was no way of knowing how much water the weir would hold.
He said Thursday’s Fight for the Real Rookwood Weir Rally was “scaremongering” farmers.
“Modelling is underway but the weir could yield up to 72,000 megalitres of water — including about 38,000 megalitres of water for farmers,” Dr Lynham said.
Building Queensland’s original business case listed its preferred option for 76,000ML and second option for 54,000ML.