Before the Fairbairn Dam was built in 1972, the town of Emerald had a population of just 650.
In the same year the town of Collinsville had a population of 2000.
Following the dam’s construction, Emerald’s population has grown by almost 20 times to be at 13,500 today. Collinsville’s population has instead halved and sits at just 1000 today.
This shows the power of dams. Dams store water and they create jobs. Dams provide confidence in the future of a town because once built, people know that there will be an economic resource of water consistently available. This gives confidence to farmers to invest in centre pivots and channels to grow high value crops. Those crops require more labour, which creates more jobs. And the extra wealth must be managed creating even more jobs for accountants, lawyers and other professionals.
The LNP Government is building dams because they create jobs. It is just fantastic to see the Rookwood Weir project come out of the ground after Michelle Landry, Ken O’Dowd and I fought for that for a decade. The wall is currently being poured and within a year or so, water should start backing up behind the wall for 50 kilometres opening up an enormous amount of Central Queensland country.
But we are not stopping there. I joined Michelle Landry and George Christensen, at the other end of the Capricornia electorate, last week to announce further funding for the Urannah Dam project near Collinsville. The Federal Government has already funded the business case for this project and that shows that it stacks up.
The Urannah Dam project would create over 1000 jobs in construction and 600 jobs would be created long term in the Collinsville region. Around 20,000 hectares would be opened to new farming, Moranbah would be provided with a more reliable option for town water and a 1400 megawatt pumped hydro
system would help backup solar power at night in North Queensland.
The water will also help provide water security for coal mines through the northern Bowen Basin so they can expand on the back of booming demand for our coal. Once again defying the doomsayers, coal prices are at record highs.
We are now investing a further $12 million to get the project through all its approvals and to its final design. That will make the project “shovel-ready” so that the proponents can attract private capital to help build the almost $1 billion project.
The Federal Government’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund can help fund the capital costs. I am confident we will get this project built thanks to the tireless advocacy of Michelle Landry and George Christensen.
Australia has been built on the back of dam and water infrastructure construction. From the famed Snowy scheme to the Perth-Kalgoorlie pipeline, major water projects have built new areas and helped grow job opportunities. These projects have created lots of “Emeralds” right across Australia.
The biggest beneficiaries of these projects are the local country people that will see their town given a shot in the arm from the investment. People like Marrisa, who owns the local Collinsville post office, who was excited about our announcement when Michelle and I spoke to her last Friday.
That is ultimately why we build these things. To give back to those hard working Australians who deserve a better future given all the hard work and heartache they put in for their local towns.