Senate debates

Monday, 21 June 2021


Urannah Dam

9:50 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week in the Senate I spoke about a dam that Labor and Queensland are tearing down, Paradise Dam. Tonight I want to talk about a dam that Labor in Queensland are refusing to build, Urannah Dam. Urannah Dam has been on the cards since 1957 and is now finally going to happen, because the private proponent is determined to deliver water security. We need this dam because of the huge demand for water in the region. It will transform Collinsville and Bowen the way that Fairbairn Dam transformed Emerald. But—and it is a big 'but'—bureaucracy and red tape, courtesy of Labor in Queensland, are delaying this project, stopping the creation of thousands of jobs and stopping the region from water security—water security that it so desperately needs.

To date, the proponent of Urannah Dam has written and submitted over 4,000 pages to the state government. This process started in 2015 under Bowen River Utilities, and it has been a hard slog for them, but it is progressing. The environmental impact assessment is underway. There is an application for funding under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, but Labor in Queensland are too inept to forward on an email to receive this money from the federal government, but I am hopeful—very, very hopeful.

It has been more than 200 days since Labor in Queensland committed to supporting the Urannah Dam project, but a red-tape and a go-slow approach is stalling economic growth and jobs for North Queensland. They are sitting on a pile of bureaucratic paperwork probably with Premier Palaszczuk plonked on top. The federal Liberal-National government has an open chequebook with $2 billion in funding as part of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, but Labor in Queensland, sadly, just doesn't seem to care enough about water security in the regions to forward on just an email. Without water security we won't have agriculture, fisheries, mining, manufacturing or horticulture or the diversity of the North Queensland, indeed the Queensland, economy. Urannah Dam will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs during construction and ongoing operations. Despite calling for federal government support for key water infrastructure projects like Urannah Dam, lazy Labor in Queensland can't even submit the proper paperwork.

If Labor were serious about water security and nation-building infrastructure to fix our economy, create jobs and deliver economic growth to North Queensland, they would support and forward on applications for federal government funding. This could be and will be the largest dam built since the Burdekin Falls Dam. With a capacity of 970,000 megalitres, Urannah Dam would fill almost 40,000 Olympic swimming pools. It is the only water infrastructure project in North Queensland—North Australia even—to attract private investment. Maybe that's why Labor in Queensland are slowing it down. They know their own projects aren't as good—enter Paradise Dam—and they don't like it when things happen, let alone when they happen by the private sector. Please, Labor in Queensland, fix Paradise Dam and build Urannah Dam.