After more than 10 years in the making, the construction of the $568.9 million Rookwood Weir draws to a close. The imminent completion of the weir marks a significant milestone poised to catalyse the growth and diversification of agriculture, bolster drought resilience, and address industrial and urban water requirements in the Gladstone, Capricorn Coast, and Rockhampton regions.
Reflecting on the lengthy journey, Federal Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, expressed her enduring dedication to securing funding and overseeing the realisation of the Rookwood Weir. Landry, who has championed the project since before her election, celebrated the achievement as a personal triumph.
“Rookwood Weir is a project close to my heart. I fought for this project before I was elected, so to see it hit the completion stage is a massive achievement,” Ms Landry said.
“Before revealing my success in obtaining the initial $130 million from the former Coalition Government in 2016, I effectively advocated for the inclusion of Rookwood in both the green and white papers addressing the future development of Northern Australia and the enhanced competitiveness of Australian agriculture. Additionally, I secured the necessary funding to conduct essential business case and environmental impact studies.
“Rookwood Weir has generated hundreds of employment opportunities for CQ locals, contributing to substantial economic growth within the community. The completion of the weir is poised to facilitate an additional $1 billion in agricultural production for Central Queensland.
“Unfortunately, it took a great deal of pushing the Labor state government to come to the party and put on the table their financial contribution to provide our region with water security. After more than a year of pushing, the state Labor government were dragged kicking and screaming to the project to provided the funding needed to bring the weir to life.”
Federal Member for Flynn, Colin Boyce, said with agriculture poised to reach $100 Billion by 2030, the need for water infrastructure is only increasing.
“Water is an essential ingredient for prosperity and life and I’m pleased that Rookwood Weir is one step closer to being officially opened,” Mr Boyce said.
“Queensland cannot expand and give security to high-value agriculture, industry, business, and modern urban living without the provision for more water.
“Our populations are continuing to grow and with this is the need to feed Australia. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making the real Rookwood Weir a reality.
“Queensland needs further water infrastructure to provide water security for our farmers and to take advantage of further expansion of agriculture in Central Queensland.”
Regrettably, it is unlikely that an Albanese Government will prioritise additional water infrastructure investment for ensuring agricultural diversity and drought resilience. The slashing of $7 billion in water infrastructure funding in Labor’s initial Budget not only deprives us of the essential tools needed for producing the nation’s food and fibre but also jeopardises the future of the next generation in agriculture.
The 970GL Urannah Dam was sensationally cancelled in the October 2022 budget, despite the fact that $483 million had been committed from the Liberal National Federal Government in May 2023 and would have provided enough water to develop 20,000 hectares of irrigated agriculture.
“The real benefits of Rookwood weir will only flow if Labor Government support the expansion of farming in Central Queensland. There is no point building a dam if farmers can’t farm. To get the full benefits of farming we need the Queensland Government to reduce red tape and rollback their native vegetation and reef regulation laws that make so many farmers feel like criminals just for growing our food.
“We also need to look at what’s next for water infrastructure in CQ. If the Rookwood weir is so good as Labor know says why is it stopping at just one dam for CQ. Let’s start building the next dam that can grow our region. Labor should restore funding for the Urannah Dam and progress the Connors River and Nathan dams too.” Senator Canavan said
Water infrastructure projects thrown on the scrap heap included Urannah Dam and Hells Gate Dam.