Urannah Dam being held up by Queensland government after cash splash: Barnaby Joyce

Jamieson Murphy
By Jamieson Murphy
March 17 2022 - 8:00pm
WRIGGLE ON: Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told the Queensland government to pull its finger out and approve the project. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

IF THE Queensland government won't help fund the almost $1-billion Urannah Dam, the least it can do is streamline its approval process, the Deputy Prime Minister says.

Barnaby Joyce put pressure on the Queensland government to get the bulldozers moving as quickly as possible, after the federal government committed $483-million to fund half the cost of the Urannah Dam, located in Central Queensland's Bowen Basin.

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Bowen River Utilities, the company behind the project, said the remaining funding would be sourced from the private market, however once built, it would be handed back to the taxpayer and become a Queensland government asset.

In an address to the Rural Press Club, Mr Joyce said the Queensland government had already expressed its support for the 970-gigalitre project, despite deciding not to fund it.

"They will have to show whether their actions meet their words," Mr Joyce said.

"Let's see how quickly Urannah Dam can be approved. Hopefully it does not take as long as other Queensland water infrastructure projects such as Rookwook weir."

The federal government is holding the $483m aside pending business case from the Queensland government to demonstrate sufficient public benefit for the investment.

"But surely the Queensland government has already said [the value] is there, because they support it," he said.

If Mr Joyce said had the authority, construction on the dam "would start tomorrow".

"Urannah does not require state funding, it merely requires state government motivation.

"So how quickly can it happen? It can happen as quickly as the state government wants to make it happen.

It's estimated the dam will unlock 103GL of water and help nearby producers develop 20,000 hectares of irrigated land, while creating up to 1200 jobs during construction and support 650 ongoing jobs.

Mr Joyce said the slow approval process for infrastructure projects one of his "greatest frustrations", laying the blame at the feet of state governments.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the dam would happen, "but only if the state government gets out of the road", and labelled the final business case a box ticking exercise.

"Report after report - and one in which they sat on in their top drawer for many years - demonstrated the Urannah stacked up and, in fact, should have already been built," Mr Littleproud said.

"This is where bureaucracy's gone mad. This is where people are jack of the talk. They want action, they want us to start burning some diesel and digging some holes and plumbing this country."

Mr Joyce indicated there would be further water infrastructure funding in the upcoming federal budget.

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Jamieson Murphy

Jamieson Murphy

National Rural Affairs reporter

National Rural Affairs reporter, focusing on rural politics and issues. Whisper g'day mate to me at jamieson.murphy@austcommunitymedia.com.au

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