Rockhampton is our nation’s beef capital and the LNP has a plan to make it our farming capital too.
Over summer local contractors were pouring the wall at the Rookwood weir site. Michelle Landry, Ken O’Dowd and I fought for years for this project. We got the first funding for it in 2016, and a few years later (after a little bit of kicking and screaming) the Queensland Labor Government came on board.
Over the next year, our region’s biggest piece of water infrastructure for 50 years will be complete. The water from Rookwood will drought proof Rockhampton and it will also double the agricultural output in the Fitzroy basin.
The Fitzroy is Australia’s second biggest water catchment after the Murray Darling. Yet unlike the Murray, we have just one major dam in the catchment. The LNP has plans to fix that, first with Rookwood and then through developing other dams in our region like the Connors River Dam, Nathan Dam and Urannah Dam.
We have enormous potential to grow more food. There were many naysayers about Rookwood who doubted whether there would be demand for water. They have been proven wrong with strong demand in water auctions, including from large farming interests to grow macadamias at a large scale in our region.
This will mean more jobs in food manufacturing for our region too as macadamias are normally processed into higher value goods.
We already have a strong food manufacturing sector in Central Queensland that will get bigger and stronger if we store more water in dams and grow more food. Many of you have probably bought the Gourmet Garden products in the shops that provide long lasting herbs in a tube. Much of these products come from farms near Biloela, and some of these farmers helped develop these innovative products.
With the backing of the state member, Colin Boyce, the LNP is helping them expand by funding the Paranui weir, which would provide these farmers – and others in the region – with more water.
Yeppoon is the Pineapple Capital of Australia but farming income is mainly dependent on the fresh market because most tinned pineapples are now imported. Some farmers are building a new, innovative, cold-pressed juice factory, a process that keeps more of the nutrients in the juice, and this will create more jobs on the coast.
With the strong support of Michelle Landry, the LNP Government has invested $5.8 million in the construction of this factory at Yeppoon.
We all know about the pineapples but many probably do not know that a Yeppoon business, Keppel Brand, makes 40 per cent of Australia’s Dagwood Dogs. If you have ever bought a dog at the Ekka it would be made in Yeppoon and is now sold under the local brand “Keppel dog”.
Mark and Kelly run this second generation business and they want to build a new factory at Yeppoon. They have applied for funding under the LNP Government’s Northern Australia plan.
Their new factory would value add beef cuts into what I described as “popcorn beef” when I sampled them the other day. Watch out for this tasty, local product that will be sold under the “Cattlemen’s” brand in servos.
This brings me back to the beef industry. All of this agricultural development will help our traditional beef industry too. More agricultural production will provide more feed to feedlots and help increase beef turnoff in our region.
More dams and water infrastructure will help support the three existing meatworks in Central Queensland as well as support our newest meatworks at Moranbah. Another family owned Central Queensland business, Blair and Josie Angus have built a modern meatworks that will create 80 new jobs thanks to their vision and the Federal LNP Government investment through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
The last Beef Week was our best ever despite the border closures. Our next will probably be even bigger and better thanks to all that is happening in our thriving agriculture sector. Over the next decade we might be hosting many more Ag shows than just Beef Week and that will be great for all of Central Queensland.