EXCLUSIVE: Shorten's $176M Rookwood Weir promise to CQ
AFTER copping criticism for his anti-Adani comments, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has exclusively shared his vision for improving employment in the CQ region.
Until now he's kept a card up his sleeve to sweeten the deal - if he was to win the next election, a full $176m federal commitment would be made to see the $352m Rookwood Weir project get off the ground.
Mr Shorten has repeatly stated that job creation was his number one priority and after having listened to thousands of people at 16 public town hall meetings throughout regional Queensland, he was well across what these communities regarded as their priorities.
What he heard was a resounding call for new infrastructure projects to drive job creation.
Consequently, it was a no-brainer for him to support the long awaited Rookwood Weir project, which promised to deliver thousands of jobs and ensure water security across Central Queensland.
With the next federal election looming, Mr Shorten's promise to fund Rookwood Weir immediately places pressure on the federal and state governments to avoid dragging their feet in producing their own matching funding offers.
"A Shorten Labor Government will partner with the Queensland Labor Government to make sure the Rookwood Weir becomes a reality," Mr Shorten said.
Labor's promise will create more than 100 local construction jobs, and provide a jobs boost to Central Queensland agriculture with increased water supply for crops meaning some 2,100 new jobs are expected to be created.
"Labor's plan will also help ensure Rockhampton and Gladstone have water security now and into the future, and help ensure Rockhampton is not dependent on seasonal rainfall."
He said the Rookwood Weir project would deliver an additional 76,000 million litres of water to Rockhampton and surrounds, enabling the production of high-value, export-ready crops including macadamias, grapes, peanuts and soybeans.
"This commitment is the first of many that will form Labor's Plan for Real Jobs in Regional Queensland," Mr Shorten said.
"Our Plan for Real Jobs in Regional Queensland will see investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, agriculture and energy, and is designed to maximise the massive economic potential of Central and North Queensland."
Mr Shorten said the plan would deliver long-term, secure jobs that are tied to infrastructure projects, backed by government investment.
"The Government needs to get involved in job creation and that's what Labor will do," he said.
Growing Central Queensland's Anne Stunzner has explained the answers to two vital Rookwood Weir project questions - how will our economy benefit and where are the jobs coming from?
How will Rookwood Weir boost CQ's economy by $1 billion annually?
- High value crops (including macadamias, citrus and tropical fruits, table grapes, chick peas, mung beans) can take advantage of water security).
- While the market will influence prices, further value is added to crops and commodities through processing.
- Intensive animal industries can also play a significant role in agricultural prosperity.
- Every dollar of direct production can be multiplied in ancillary industries such as transport and logistics, sales, retail, marketing, repairs and maintenance etc.
How will Rookwood Weir generate 2100 jobs?
- In the construction phase, it's estimated there will be around 200 jobs in total.
- This includes 80 people to build tow bridges, 60 to 80 people at the weir site and support and administrative roles.
- There will be additional contract work on roads and quarry of construction material, but it's understood up to 50 people could be sourced from existing Central Queensland firms.
- Further jobs will be created in research and development, technology development, farming, transport and logistics, financial services, ancillary support (mechanics, tractor sales etc), education, health care, transport, logistics, wholesale and retail trade.
- It's understood these jobs would build over time, with full potential being achieved in roughly a decade.