It has been a long-held goal of multiple governments to double Australia’s agricultural production. We can’t grow more food without water, and that means building dams so that we can store water, like money in a bank.
Today the Federal Government announces funding for 14 different water projects that could underpin an agricultural jobs boom for Queensland.
In central Queensland we are committing up to $130 million to construct the Rookwood Weir, providing the State Government finalises a business case and receives environmental approvals. Rookwood is in the Fitzroy basin, the second largest water catchment in Australia, yet it only has one major dam at Emerald. Building Rookwood will create an average of 76,000 megalitres of water available a year, create an estimated 2100 jobs and double agricultural production in the Fitzroy basin.
This is the kind of investment Queensland needs to recover its mojo after a tough time post-mining boom and a lost year with a Labor State Government that has had no plan to drive growth.
Thirty years ago we had a state government of vision, which built the Burdekin Falls Dam. It today helps support more than 70,000ha of irrigation and thousands of jobs. It is one of the most successful irrigation projects in the country. It also helps dispel the myth that we can’t develop agriculture in the north.
Northern Australia represents 40 per cent of our land mass and 60 per cent of our water resources, with many parts remaining undeveloped.
The Australian Government has signed three trade agreements with China, South Korea and Japan, multiplying the opportunities available for farmers. The Coalition plan to develop the north is focused on developing agriculture. We should not downplay the potential for agriculture in the north.
This opinion article was originally published in the Courier Mail on 26 May 2016.