IN FOCUS: Artisan Gluten Free Bakery owner Simone Lawrie with Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Rockhampton LNP candidate Douglas Rodgers, who say businesses in the region will benefit from Rookwood Weir.
IN FOCUS: Artisan Gluten Free Bakery owner Simone Lawrie with Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Rockhampton LNP candidate Douglas Rodgers, who say businesses in the region will benefit from Rookwood Weir. Contributed

Labor blames Landry for delay in Rookwood business case

IT'S been a priority project for the region for the best part of 20 years, but even full Federal Government support hasn't stopped Rookwood Weir creating political waves.

All levels of government have voiced their support for the major dam project, but the LNP has accused Queensland Labor of continuing to stall on the project and costing the region thousands of jobs.

The issue was again brought back into the election spotlight with Rockhampton LNP candidate Douglas Rodgers and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry demanding the Queensland Government release the results of the business case.

The State Government has previously said their funding of the project hinged on the outcome of the independant business case.

Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project, Rookwood Weir.
Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project, Rookwood Weir. SunWater and Gladstone Area Wate

Speaking to media at Artisan Gluten Free Bakery, Ms Landry and Mr Rodgers said it was local businesses who would benefit from the flow-on impacts of the weir's construction.

Business owner Simone Lawrie said she was hoping to expand the business and employ more staff were the economy to pick up through increased jobs in the region.

"I currently employ 11 staff here in Artisan Gluten Free Bakery but would love to put on more staff and provide more jobs, and I'm sure that would be the case once Rookwood Weir is under construction,” she said.

"I am also involved in a family property and can see how Rookwood will benefit graziers.”

Mr Rodgers said a variety of businesses would benefit, not just those involved in primary produce.

"We'll have more people in the region, more people spending money, more people hanging about having cups of coffee, buying shirts, buying newspapers,” Mr Rodgers said.

No Caption
No Caption Kerri-Anne Mesner

"There's a flow-on effect there that perhaps hasn't been put forward as well as could be. The economic boost is undeniable.”

Mr Rodgers said 2018 would mark the start of construction were the LNP to be elected.

"Within the first 100 days, an elected LNP government will start the ball rolling, so putting out tenders. There's jobs created in that,” he said.

"The construction of the weir will take place over two dry seasons, so it will take place over two years, creating 200 to 400 jobs.”

Mr Rodgers said the further 2000 ongoing jobs would take more years to come to fruition, but would make a difference to the local economy.

Downstream from the Rookwood Weir site.
Downstream from the Rookwood Weir site.

Ms Landry said the State Government needed to release the plan for Rookwood Weir.

"The people of Central Queensland should have been able to see the business case for Rookwood Weir - if the State Government really thinks it's so important - before the election was called,” she said.

"What has the Queensland Government got to hide? Is this another 'secret report' like their report into a coal-fired power station that showed the LNP policy to build such a power station is economically sound?

"Do they have figures that show Rookwood Weir has got a sound economic case for its construction too? I certainly believe it does.”

However, water supply minister Mark Bailey yesterday said Ms Landry "only has herself to blame” for the fact the business case had not yet been made public.

First sod is turned on the $929.3 million Caloundra to Sunshine Motorway upgrade.Queensland Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports Mark Bailey
Water supply minister Mark Bailey. Warren Lynam

"The Member for Capricornia muddied the waters on the Turnbull Government commitment for Rookwood Weir when she recently stated there was $260 million in federal funding - or possibly even full funding - on the table from the Turnbull Government towards the capital cost of the project,” he said.

"This is at least double the confirmed federal commitment of $130 million.

"This new funding offer is potentially a game changer for the project and something that would have to be assessed, as it wasn't part of the business case.

"I have written to the Federal Government to seek written clarification on whether backbencher Ms Landry's claim is actual.

"For such a large amount of taxpayer money, formal confirmation in black and white is obviously a basic requirement.

"So far, no response at all has been received to back up Ms Landry's claim by any member of the divided and dysfunctional Turnbull Government.

"Ms Landry has been left high and dry by her Canberra colleagues to date about her claim.

"The business case was due to be considered by government in October however clarification of this funding deal is needed as this materially impacts the business case and therefore the decision.

"The point of the business case for Rookwood Weir is to determine the feasibility of the proposed future water infrastructure project, whether it stacks up economically.

"Careful consideration is prudent given the significant ongoing financial contributions that may be required from both the Federal and State governments to build, operate and maintain the dam.”