One of the achievements of the LNP Government over the past 9 years was to bring dams back on to the national agenda. When we came to office in 2013 dams was a four letter word. A major, agricultural dam had not been built for a generation.
Even before we came to government, Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd and I scouted Central and North Queensland for dam sites and we came to government with plans to build them.
It took time to drag state governments kicking and screaming to the table but eventually the Queensland Government supported our proposal for the Rookwood weir. Over the next year the Rookwood weir, just west of Rockhampton, will complete construction and begin filling with water. It will double agricultural output in the Fitzroy basin and create thousands of jobs in Central Queensland.
While it is disappointing to have lost government, the legacy of the LNP's efforts continues to live on. In the past week, the Urannah Dam has submitted its Environmental Impact Statement making significant progress towards getting this dam built soon.
The Urannah dam would store two Sydney Harbour's worth of water near Collinsville. Urannah would create a massive 6500 jobs in construction and more than 6500 jobs over its first 30 years of operation.
Its construction also would deliver multiple flow on benefits for farming, mining, energy and urban water.
The dam would open up 20,000 hectares of new farming land, effectively another Burdekin. Urannah would supply more water to coal mining in the north Bowen Basin helping to create more opportunities in mining at a time when coal prices are at record highs.
Urannah would install a 1400 megawatt pumped hydro plant allowing for storage that can back up weather-dependent renewables. And, Urannah can also supply more reliable water to Moranbah fixing a long standing issue for them.
All of these benefits is why the LNP backed the project with a $483 million investment in this year's budget. The State Government in this week's budget has also provided $650,000 to help complete approvals.
So with the money already in the budget, and the State Government supporting, there is no excuses for the Federal Government not to back our region and get this dam under construction.
The new Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt, said recently that Labor would reassess funding to Urannah Dam and other dams funded by the LNP. His weasel words raise the prospect that Labor is looking to raid funds put aside to invest in regional Australia to fund their own city-centric priorities.
Labor's stance also proves that they have no existing plans to build dams on coming to government. The opposite of how we entered government in 2013.
The world needs more food and energy and Australia should play its part in helping the world following the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Dams create the economic base needed to build thriving country towns like Emerald and Ayr. Let's hope Labor quickly understands the importance of building dams like we once did.