Kennedy MP Bob Katter, Chairperson HIPCo Shane McCarthy, Flinders Shire Mayor Jane McNamara, HIPCo Board member Jeff Reid and KAP leader Robbie Katter as the preliminary business case on the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme is passed down. PICTURE: SUPPLIED.
Kennedy MP Bob Katter, Chairperson HIPCo Shane McCarthy, Flinders Shire Mayor Jane McNamara, HIPCo Board member Jeff Reid and KAP leader Robbie Katter as the preliminary business case on the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme is passed down. PICTURE: SUPPLIED.

Dam close to life as Katter applies pressure

Another significant step has been taken in the fight to build Queensland's first dam in 30 years, with a preliminary business case showing the Hughenden Irrigation Project to be "promising".

It means the final business case can now go ahead after finding the dam would create 490 permanent jobs and produce nearly $73m in gross regional product annually.

The preliminary case costed the 190,000 megalitre dam at $500m, but it's hoped that figure can be reduced to $350m.

It found that the dam could harvest 109,000 megalitres of water per year, or less than 4 per cent of the Flinders River flow, to supply 70,000 irrigators at 75 per cent reliability.

Jeff Reid's property. KAP Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter toured Hughenden to visit the site of a proposed Hughenden Dam. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Jeff Reid's property. KAP Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter toured Hughenden to visit the site of a proposed Hughenden Dam. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

The water would be used for high value crops including lemons and mangoes, as well as fodder crops for the livestock industry.

The Hughenden Irrigation Project would be built on the Flinders River 45km northwest of Hughenden and 380km west of Townsville and is designed to capitalise on the boom-bust cycle of heavy rainfall in the area.

It's seen as the key to unlocking agricultural development in the region and spruiks the promise of construction jobs and ongoing economic benefit.

But Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has called on the State Government to stop studying and start building shovel ready projects in the North.

"There has been nearly a billion dollars spent on water assessments and reports in the last decade and there hasn't been a shovel load of concrete put across a gutter," he said.

KAP Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter toured Hughenden to visit the site of a proposed Hughenden Dam. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
KAP Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter toured Hughenden to visit the site of a proposed Hughenden Dam. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

"Under Bjelke-Petersen we were building a dam every year. Burdekin Falls was built and Emerald was built, but in the 30 years since then there hasn't been a single dam built in North Queensland.

"They've built every dam they can in the south east corner, but they refuse to build our shovel-ready projects like Hughenden and Hells Gates."

The KAP want to ensure water entitlements and irrigation land would not be sold off, but would go under a ballot system to the "aspirational class like miners and those doing 'hard yakka jobs'", on the condition they live on the property.

In November 2018, the Federal Government committed up to $180 million to progress the scheme, while a foundation stone was placed at a model farm site for the project in October 2019 to symbolise commitment to the project.

Originally published as Dam close to life as Katter applies pressure


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