The Coalition’s Dams and Water Management Task Group today completed a two-day visit to the Gulf catchment in North Queensland.
Task group members Barnaby Joyce, Ian Macdonald and Simon Birmingham inspected potential sites on the Flinders and Gilbert rivers.
“Water is wealth and if we want to grow some of the disparate parts of our country we need to harness and use this resource to create jobs and to open up new parts of our country.
“It was great to see local communities and local governments get behind projects to help take their towns to a better place. There is enormous untapped potential in the Gulf but we need leadership from all levels of government to make that happen,” said Senator Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Chair of the dams task group.
Senator Ian Macdonald, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia, said the Coalition was committed to breaking the “dam phobia” that had been choking national development under the influence of the environmental movement for the last decade. “Dams have become one of those four-letter words we dare not speak,” he said.
“Recent droughts and extreme weather events clearly show there is a place for sensible, cost-effective water storage, irrigation and flood mitigation strategies.
“The task group’s tour of the north and north-west enabled us to meet with local people and to see first-hand three exciting proposals to open up some of the productive land in this part of the world,” he said.
Senator Simon Birmingham, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin and the Environment, described the need for new irrigation regions as vital.
“Australia has enjoyed enormous success in developing irrigated agriculture and has learned many lessons about how to do it wisely in the process. In a world with ever growing demand for reliable food production we need to put our national experience to good use.
“If a future Coalition Government is able to deliver new sustainable irrigation regions in Australia’s north it will be to the benefit of the entire nation. We cannot afford to ignore this opportunity,” he said.
Tony Abbott established the dams task group in January to look at the potential for new and expanded dam sites around Australia. Over this year the task group will be visiting a range of potential sites and meeting with interested stakeholders.