UNITED FRONT: Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd and Senator Matt Canavan were in Emerald this week to meet with community stakeholders.
UNITED FRONT: Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd and Senator Matt Canavan were in Emerald this week to meet with community stakeholders. Taylor Battersby

Focus on the locals

THE closure of agricultural colleges and Fairbairn Dam's low water levels were at the forefront of two Central Queensland politicians' minds when they visited Emerald this week.

LNP Senator Matt Canavan and Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd spoke with local business operators, met with community leaders and inspected progress on a number of projects.

During their visit, Senator Canavan and Mr O'Dowd heard first hand about the impact of the Emerald Agriculture College closure on Central Queensland farmers.

Senator Canavan said he was keen to find a solution for the college, going forward.

"Everyone understands it's been challenging times for ag colleges and technical colleges more generally but to just overnight, lose this skill set here... It was a big kick in the guts just before Christmas,” he said.

"I'm not saying we have to keep things exactly the same. I know... there's always ideas of doing things better.”

Member for Flynn Mr O'Dowd said people in Emerald were "totally devastated”.

"It's a good facility out there. We just can't throw that away,” he said.

Senator Canavan and Mr O'Dowd were also concerned about dire situation at Fairbairn Dam.

"Obviously in the short term, it's a management exercise,” Senator Canavan said.

"Longer term, it underlines the need for us to invest in water security to get more out of the rural water resources we already have and expand on our ability to capture water in the region.”

Last week, Mr O'Dowd announced the $11 million Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme upgrade was going ahead. The scheme aims to improve long term water security in the region and provide an extra 6,460 megalitres of water to local irrigators.


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