Tuesday, 20 October 2020
I'd like to talk today about the issue of water infrastructure. It's so vitally important. I want to commend the LNP in Queensland for their policy stance with regard to the Bradfield Scheme. This is an immensely important piece of infrastructure, not just for Queensland but for our nation. To bring water from Hells Gate in the Far North, where rivers such as the Ross River spill up to 176 gigs a day—that means that, in two days, they would fill Sydney Harbour—to the Fitzroy, then to the Thompson, and then to the Warrego, which ultimately would bring it down through the Darling River system and into South Australia, would be an incredible piece of infrastructure, an incredible piece of architecture for Australia, that would assist so greatly in dealing with the paucity of water that's so apparent in the southern part of our nation. As well, it would open up vast areas of irrigational land in the western parts of Queensland. This is real vision. It's a shame the Labor Party in Queensland doesn't have it.
I would also like to talk about water infrastructure in my electorate of New England. Water infrastructure has always been at the forefront of what I believe my purpose in politics for my people is. The moment I got back, we went to the stalled Chaffey Dam expansion, which didn't have approval or enough money, and got that underway. That took it from 60,000 megs to 103,000 megs. By so doing, it allowed the city of Tamworth to get through the last drought without running out of water. That's incredibly important. The next step was Quipolly Dam, at Werris Creek. With the large expansion of the transport and timber industries, it's become yet another growth hub in New England. With Quipolly Dam, that expanded the capacity and also the transfer and augmentation of that water system. On top of that, we had water treatment for Tenterfield—a project not as large as the others but incredibly important. And, of course, there's Dungowan Dam, and the Commonwealth has contributed a quarter of a billion dollars to that project.
The next one is the pumped hydro facility on the Ovens River, east of Armidale—a project in excess of $1 billion. The Commonwealth has already put up $1 million for the feasibility, and I welcome the state government making sure that it's a streamlined process when the Commonwealth gets the money. There were some people who thought that the state government's approval of a streamlined process was approval of the money. I wish it was, but it wasn't. Now we'll have to go and fight. I've been working very closely with Minister Taylor to make sure that we get our hands on, via ARENA or the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, in excess of a billion dollars that will be lent out to build this massive piece of infrastructure. It's yet more delivery for New England.