CANBERRA, AAP – The federal government has announced funding of $5.4 billion to build the Hells Gates Dam in North Queensland, creating more than 7000 jobs and opening up irrigation across three agricultural zones in the Burdekin.
The government on Tuesday night said it would guarantee funding to build the dam in next week’s 2022/33 budget, subject to completion of the final stage of the business case, expected in June this year.
Up to 60,000 hectares of irrigation would be opened up through a 2100 gigalitre dam bolstered by three downstream irrigation weirs.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that more dams were needed in Australia to support agricultural industries
“We’ve done the homework on Hells Gates Dam and it’s now time to get on and build it,” he said.
“This dam will help turn the Burdekin region into an agricultural powerhouse, helping our farmers to stock supermarkets and feed Australia while also securing North Queensland’s water supply and security.”
The project is expected to create more than 7000 jobs and inject up to $1.3 billion of gross regional product (GRP) into North Queensland’s economy during construction.
New agricultural opportunities are expected to support more than 3000 regional jobs and generate up to $6 billion in GRP.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said irrigating the soils of the Burdekin will help the region realise its full potential as a food producer for Australia and the world.
“We have put the money to build Hells Gates in the bank and we are ready to get on with the job.”
Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the project would have a significant flow-on effect for Townsville and its port.
“We’ve backed this project right from the start because it is something that will create jobs and drive the economy forward,” Mr Thompson said.
Queensland LNP senator Matt Canavan said he was over the moon about the announcement.
“We’ve all seen in the past few months how much it can rain in this country, but it’s a little bit sad when it ends up in the ocean and we can’t capture and store it,” he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.