November 21, 2018
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell intends to capitalise on a Federal Government decision to grant $2 million to the South and North Burnett to fund feasibility studies into water projects.
The funding announcement was made by acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Monday.
Mr McCormack said the Federal Government would tip an extra $500 million into its National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, which was set up to pay for studies and construction of dams, pipelines and irrigation projects to help drought-proof Australia.
Included in this was $1 million each for the South Burnett and North Burnett to fund feasibility studies into regional water projects.
On Tuesday, the Mayor said he has been told the funding was “locked in” and would not be withdrawn if the LNP lost the next Federal election.
He now intends to talk to Mayor Rachel Chambers in the North Burnett to see if both regions can work together as they share common water issues.
Since the announcement, Council has already held two meetings to progress the study and would soon engage water experts, irrigators, local water user groups, agronomists and industry in further consultations.
Mayor Campbell said he also intended to draw on work already carried out on regional water issues by the Wide Bay-Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils.
He believed more water for both regions could lead to a boom in agriculture, creating more jobs and wealth.
“I have been championing getting more irrigation in the South Burnett for many years,” the Mayor said.
A detailed feasibility study that looked at all the options – whether that involved raising dam walls to expand existing water storages, new pipelines to bring irrigation to formerly unirrigated areas, or other options – was a fundamental first step to persuading the State Government to build those facilities.
The Mayor said he believed examining all possible options and picking the best ones was the best way forward, and if a solid plan was put in place State funding would inevitably appear.
Because of this, he intended to grasp the opportunity the new grant funding provides and “run with it”.
“The decision by the Federal Government to allocate this funding is a significant win for the South Burnett,” he said.