Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits Rockhampton. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits Rockhampton. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

TURNBULL IN ROCKY: A day on the campaign trail

UPDATE 6PM: Anne Stunzner from Growing Central Queensland explains how Rookwood Weir will deliver $1 billion to Central Queensland annually and generate 2100 jobs.

How will it deliver $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 $1 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 two bridges, 60 to 80 people at the weir site and support and administrative roles
  • There will be additional contract work on roads and the 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

EARLIER: ADMIRING livestock and digging up sweet potatoes.

It was just another day in paradise for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who flew into Rockhampton with promises of a billion-dollar economic boost for the region.

Following in predecessor Tony Abbott's footsteps, Mr Turnbull got among the livestock at Paradise Lagoons and spoke to the Acton family about the lift in beef prices.

After trying to win over two young cowboys, four-year-old twins Orlando and Presley Acton, Mr Turnbull and the following media pack moved to a Gracemere sweet potato farm.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets four-year-old twins Orlando and Presley Acton, who are not impressed by the national media scrum.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets four-year-old twins Orlando and Presley Acton, who are not impressed by the national media scrum.

It was here, among a sweet potato crop, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce gave Mr Turnbull some words of advice.

"You can make money out of mud, but you can't make it out of dust," he said.

Water was the buzzword yesterday, as Mr Turnbull confirmed his government would put $130 million into Rookwood Weir.

Described by Mr Turnbull as "a really compelling project", Rookwood Weir still needs to secure State Government funding.

>>READ: See how the day unfolded with our multimedia coverage of Malcolm Turnbull's visit

But that's something Mr Turnbull doesn't see a problem with, saying he was "very confident the state will come to the party".

"You get a lot of water for the investment," he said.

"There's a lot of water for the tax payer's buck."

Mr Turnbull said the project would create 2100 new jobs in the agriculture industry, while Mr Joyce said it would provide the region "an extra $1 billion a year".

"This is what will come following the construction of the weir, because of the increased agricultural production," Mr Turnbull said on the jobs expected to stem from Rookwood.

"All of these things feed into each other.

"Irrigated agriculture is the most productive agriculture."

Mr Turnbull said the agriculture sector needed to look to new technology and the latest genetics to deliver a premium product.

"Right across the board, Australian farmers are innovative ... that is critical to our success in the future," he said.

"Just because agriculture has been with us a long time, doesn't mean it isn't at the cutting edge, the forefront of innovation."

When asked why the timing was right to move on Rookwood after almost two decades of discussion, Mr Turnbull said it was the first time a government had been prepared to start the project.

"A lot of these water projects have been around longer than all of us," he said.

"They've been around, some of them, for a century.

"The reality is you need political will, you need leadership and you need leaders that understand water and Barnaby and I do.

"We understand the importance of water, the important of irrigation and we've both got a passion for it.

"I'm so excited to be supporting this and announcing this and I know we will do a lot more.

"We've got a lot of water in Australia and what we don't have is enough good management of it, particularly in the north." 



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