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What really happened with the $260 million for Rookwood weir

WATER WOES: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce are pushing for Rookwood Weir to go ahead.
WATER WOES: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce are pushing for Rookwood Weir to go ahead. Chris Ison ROK030817crookwood1

A LOT can happen in a day in politics.

A cat was put among the pigeons after Wednesday's explosive revelation that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull verbally offered Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk a doubling of federal funding for the construction of Rookwood Weir.

The $260 million offer was made at the June meeting of Council of Australian Governments meeting.

When Ms Palaszczuk and Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey were approached about the funding offer, they demanded to see an offer in writing.

The Morning Bulletin can now reveal further information regarding the offer and its implications.

A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the offer meant the government would be effectively buying the water asset.

Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Michelle Landry MP at the Rookwood Weir announcement.
Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Michelle Landry MP at the Rookwood Weir announcement. Contributed RCC

"The Commonwealth government was prepared to put $130 million in cash on the table to build Rookwood, however the Labor State Government wasn't prepared to contribute a single dollar because Premier Palaszczuk was scared of losing Green preference votes in Brisbane,” the spokesperson said.

Under the Constitution states own and control water infrastructure.

For the Federal Government to own the weir, the Queensland Government would have to draft a contract to hand over the asset - something Mr Joyce's spokesperson said Ms Palaszczuk agreed she would do the day after the meeting.

"It was suggested to the Premier that another option would be for the Common- wealth to build, own and operate Rookwood Weir which would require special state legislation given States' constitutional responsibility for water in their jurisdiction,” they said.

"When that suggestion was made, the Premier undertook to have a contractual offer the following day.

READY FOR ACTION: Farmer Larry Acton shows Senator Matt Canavan and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry the site for the proposed Rookwood Weir.
READY FOR ACTION: Farmer Larry Acton shows Senator Matt Canavan and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry the site for the proposed Rookwood Weir. Contributed

"Not only did she not come back with any offer, but her own Labor Minister, Mark Bailey, has confirmed that the Premier didn't even speak to him about the proposal.”

A spokesperson from the Palaszczuk government disputed the version of events.

They said the Deputy Prime Minister made an offer for the Federal Government to control the project.

As the meeting ended, a senior public servant approached the Premier's advisors to rule out the suggestion as unlikely, possibly due to the complex legislative requirements involved in such a proposal.

DOCUMENTATION REQUESTED: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will certainly consider a written funding offer from the federal government for Rookwood Weir.
DOCUMENTATION REQUESTED: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will certainly consider a written funding offer from the federal government for Rookwood Weir. Chris Ison ROK220917cpremier2

"The only commitment the Palaszczuk government has given is to fully and properly consider the business case,” the spokesperson said.

"Any serious, written offer from the Deputy Prime Minister would be welcome and given proper consideration.

"This is important, especially given a senior federal public servant has indicated such an offer would be unlikely.”

The State Government continues to seek a written offer from the Federal Government.

If that is not forthcoming, Central Queensland will await a Queensland Cabinet meeting this month where a final decision will be made on the Rookwood project.

Topics:  Annastacia Palaszczuk barnaby joyce coag mark bailey queensland government



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