Rookwood debate continues, could be released in a matter of weeks
AS POLITICIANS to the north of Gladstone continue to challenge each other around the potential for Rookwood Weir, Glenn Butcher remains patient and says it's necessary to get the decision right.
The State Member for Gladstone says the weir can potentially service thousands and thousands of acres of agricultural land, as well as Gladstone industry now and into the future, but without a buy-in from farmers the business case would not stack up.
"The industrial side will stack up and attract businesses which use the water, but it's the off-peak agreements to sell water to farmers for agriculture that are needed," he said.
The business case for Rookwood Weir is being prepared by Building Queensland and appears on track for release in the coming weeks, according to Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne.
The length of time taken to prepare the business case has been a long-time frustration for the Federal Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry.
Ms Landry questioned why it took 12 months for work to begin on the business case, after the Federal Government promised $130 million to fund half the cost of construction.
Mr Butcher said he didn't know why it took that long for Building Queensland to begin work, but that it was a massive project.
"The cross-river rail took many years to get up and that was a 1000 page document," he said.
"Here in Gladstone we have an option for GAWB (Gladstone Area Water Board) to facilitate a pipeline from the Fitzroy.
"We already have that ... long-term security for our industry.
"The more important benefit is for agriculture, but if they don't have the off-takes from farmers in place, then we've spent hundreds of millions of dollars on something that may not service what it needs."
Mr Byrne accused both Ms Landry and LNP candidate for Rockhampton, Douglas Rodgers of making "rash and unsubstantiated claims" about the benefits of the dam and potential demand for water.
"(The business case) will be an honest and expert appraisal of the merits of the proposal, rather than some trumped-up ideological fantasy," he said.
But Ms Landry, who has pushed for the weir since before the last election said water was not an ideological debate, rather a basic requirement to grow things.
She said under the current government, Australian agriculture had emerged as the fastest growing sector and the largest contributor to national GDP growth in 2016-17, cementing its position as one of the economic powerhouses driving the nation.
"Central Queensland is missing out on this growth," Ms Landry said.
"I would like (Mr Byrne) to stand in front of farmers and tell them that water infrastructure is a philosophical debate."