Fight for Mid-West’s Future Hangs on H20: Katter
Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter says the “marathon” bureaucracy battle being fought to build the mid-west’s Hughenden Irrigation Project (HIPCo) has been recently buoyed by the Albanese Federal Government’s re-commitment to its $170 million funding pledge.
Mr Katter said it was encouraging that the money remained secure as the HIPCo board, made up of local community representatives, agriculturalists and investors, continued to progress its water licence application through the Flinders River Water Tender process.
The project was vying for a water allocation of 74,000ML, which it would draw over a number of years.
“As I always say, the work begins with big projects once the money is secured these days – red and green tape is known to strangle projects no matter how big or small they are but there is dedicated team that is ensuring this does not happen with HIPCo,” the Traeger MP said.
“The HIPCo team is progressing forward and just this week the HIPCo Chairman, board members and executive as well as myself and Bob Katter MP enjoyed productive meetings with State Minister Glenn Butcher MP and Federal Minister Tanya Plibersek in Townsville.”
He added Jim Hill was also there representing Yirendali’s interests and there were members of the National Water Grid as well relevant State departments including acting Director General Linda Dobe.
“We are all working together and things are looking positive.”
Mr Katter also flagged this week’s news that the Flinders Shire Council had progressed to the “final investment decision stage” with an overseas partner for the $200 million Hughenden meat processing plant.
He said if Council was serious about the abattoir, he was happy to support the project.
However, Mr Katter made it clear that the irrigation and water for the development was the immediate priority and given Council’s small scheme had appeared to collapse, focus and commitment was required now to ensure the project succeeded for the good of the region.
“I think if you live in western Queensland, you always want to be aspirational about things, but one thing I do know for certain is that it’s going to be very difficult to maintain an operation like a meatworks if you can’t maintain a growing, fattening and finishing facility,” he said.
“This is where, once again, HIPCo is essential to Hughenden’s future.
“Regardless of whether you have an abattoir or not, the prospects for the Flinders Shire region are linked to having access to more water – the starting point for everything and irrigation prospects of the community is the irrigation scheme.”
Mr Katter said he would provide his support to the Council at any stage to advance the project, and that all parties had to be aware of the potential roadblocks that could be erected by various levels of government.
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