Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) MICK TSIKAS

Deputy PM overrides Infrastructure Aust's Rookwood concerns

ANY lingering doubt about the $352m Rookwood Weir going ahead was washed away by the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack yesterday during his visit to Rockhampton.

His commitment to the weir came a week after Infrastructure Australia released its findings that costs were likely to exceed the benefits of the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project at this time.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Philip Davies said a staged approach should be considered as a more cost-effective way to secure water supply as he announced they were pushing the weir's construction down the Australian Government's list of priorities.

He said an independent assessment found there was "insufficient evidence” to show an immediate need.

"We support Building Queensland's recommendation in the business case to clearly establish customer demand for additional water before the project proceeds,” he said.

However Mr McCormack dismissed Infrastructure Australia's cautionary approach.

"I get all that (the Infrastructure Australia findings) but I'm the Infrastructure Minister and I'm keen on it,” he said.

"I appreciate Infrastructure Australia has brought down that report but it didn't have all the analysis (at the time).

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"They are there to provide guidance and advice to us, but (Prime Minister) Malcolm Turnbull stood there (at the April funding announcement in Rockhampton) with local members and myself and I can tell you it's going ahead. It's a good project, it's going to help drought proof Rockhampton, it's going to provide valuable water infrastructure for the farmers there that can only help agriculture production of the region.

Rookwood Announcement: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd, Michael McCormack, Matt Canavan, David Littleproud
Rookwood Announcement: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd, Michael McCormack, Matt Canavan, David Littleproud Allan Reinikka

"We have put $176.1m towards it (matched with State funding) and I'm really excited about it.”

He said there was often debate around major projects and Rookwood Weir was one of those.

"Infrastructure projects are always going to have those people who perhaps are looking at it from a different point of view, and that's fine. We live in a democracy so go your hardest,” he said.

"I'm sure there were people that though Sydney Harbour Bridge wasn't the right way to go.”

"The fact is Rookwood is good infrastructure, necessary infrastructure and infrastructure that's going to be built.”

Last week Ms Landry said as far as she was aware, construction of the weir was still set to start in the dry season next year.

Mr McCormack supported that time line.

Rookwood Weir Project benefits for CQ:

The weir could add 76,000 megalitres of water for agricultural production along the Fitzroy River, as well as an eventual back-up supply for Gladstone, Rockhampton and Livingstone Shire.

The region has potential for irrigated agricultural production, including high value agriculture such as citrus, grapes and vegetables, as well as cattle feedlots.

The project would create 100 construction jobs and increased agricultural production would generate up to 2000 more direct jobs over10 years.

For the project to be economically viable, water would need to be used to boost agricultural production substantially.

The water would be available within two years of construction starting.