Katter puts Plibersek’s water commitment to the test

May 19, 2023

JUST one day after the $5.5m announcement for North Queensland water planning, Kennedy MP Bob Katter put that commitment to the test by inviting the Federal Environment and Water Minister to tour Big Rocks Weir at Charters Towers.

Senior members of Federal Minister Tanya Plibersek’s office, along with Charters Towers Regional Council mayor Frank Beveridge and Mr Katter inspected the site of the proposed weir on the Burdekin River, about 26km north of Charters Towers and 24km upstream of the existing Charters Towers weir on Thursday.

The project has $60m allocated towards a weir which would feature a 13.3m high wall and collect 10,000ML of water.

Following Ms Plibersek’s announcement on Wednesday where she stated: “Our Government is committed to delivering water projects that stack up economically, and deliver water efficiently to the places that need it,” Mr Katter said the benefits of Big Rocks Weir were undeniable.

“In Townsville, the minister told us she was here to listen, and she was here to commit. She told us they didn’t want to be a government that just put out press releases on projects and never built anything,” Mr Katter said.

“She told the meeting she was ‘here to listen’ and ‘here to commit’.

“Well the planning for Big Rocks is (almost) done. It’s time to build the thing.

“The ravages of drought cost North Queensland alone, millions of dollars a year. With no pasture, the cattle flog the country out, and we want to break that cycle.

“Now, when this irrigation goes in, we won’t have to send our little calves who have no feed here, down to lot feeders 2500km away near the New South Wales border to fatten them – because they can grow grain down there and we have no water to grow anything here.”

Mayor Beveridge said the Initial Advice Statement and Environmental impact assessment were completed in January 2021 but progress, in particular, release of funding from the allocated $60m had slowed.