The Fitzroy region could become Australia’s second great bowl, according to Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan.
What was needed to turn that vision in to a reality was construction of dams to provide a guaranteed water supply, he has said in a speech to the Senate.
“We have one very good food bowl in the Murray-Darling Basin but I think we need a second food bowl in our nation. I think we are big enough to have a second food bowl somewhere here in our nation, and I think the Fitzroy Basin could potentially be that place.
“It is the biggest catchment on the eastern seaboard. More water flows out of the Fitzroy River into the Pacific Ocean than from any other river in this country.
“We can store water in the wet times so that we can use that water in the dry times to grow food.”
Senator Canavan contrasted water storage in the Murray-Darling, where about 70% of the flow can be held for irrigation and other uses, with the Fitzroy: “We can only store around 30% of the flows in the Fitzroy Basin. It is an undeveloped and untapped resource for our country.”
Senator Canavan said suitable sites for construction of new dams included the Connors River, in the north of the Fitzroy Basin, which could store 375,000 megalitres, Nathan Dam in the south of the Fitzroy Basin, which could store almost 900,000 megalitres, and sites at Eden Bann and Rookwood on the Fitzroy that could store a total of 200,000 megalitres.
“Governments need to show vision and foresight in getting behind these projects so that we can have a strong agriculture sector, so that our mining sector can have water and so that our towns and communities – particularly in regional areas – can have affordable access to water too.
“We have outlined an agenda as a government to build dams, and we need to try to see these come to fruition now.
“There is therefore a need for the public sector to take some of those risks, to share the risks with the private sector to ensure that these viable projects which are going to provide great community benefit in terms of jobs, in terms food and in terms of better water security go ahead.”