Rookwood opinion: Labor must support CQ projects
Opinion by The Morning Bulletin editor, Frazer Pearce
THE Rookwood Weir has been a confusing project to follow.
On one hand we have seen almost blind faith support from the Federal Govt urging the state to build it as soon as possible and then on the other we have the state taking a cautionary approach (12 month business case) regarding "responsible use of taxpayer dollars".
Now the business case has come in with a cost blow-out from $260 to $352m. The state is calling for a higher contribution from the Australian Govt. That's a fair call.
Judging from Sen Matt Canavan's response I don't think a 50-50 deal ($176m each) will be an issue for the Federal Govt.
But will the state match that? It should if the project stacks up to its 2000 jobs in 10 years hype. It's all very well to build a huge slab of infrastructure but I think any reasonable person understands it can't be a white elephant.
All the while Adani, which promises Rockhampton 1100 construction jobs and 600 ongoing jobs at its Carmichael mine, has been cut off from a potential $1b federal loan because of some bizarre high moral ground stance taken by the Qld Premier.
It won't be a good look for Labor if it continues to play hard ball with Rookwood after undermining Adani's funding plan and potentially hurting this region's biggest jobs bonanza in decades.
Rookwood is no Adani but there doesn't appear to be many other government-funded projects, offering long-term jobs, in the pipeline.
The Australian Govt needs to get Rookwood up to win back public support, and frankly so does the state.