Transcript - Northern Drive – Dam Announcement: Thu 8 Nov 2018, 4:00pm

Sofie Wainwright: North Queensland LNP Senator Ian Macdonald has urged caution. He’s warned significant hurdles remain for both the Hughenden scheme and the big rocks weir near charters towers.

Senator Macdonald: I understand why these agreements are made, it’s important to keep stable government through to the next election. But as for the Hughenden project, well look, its got a long way to go before any money goes towards that. It has to get some sort of feasibility study and business case. It has to of course get Queensland Government approval and can I tell you, for 20 years we have been trying to get some form of water storage along the flinders river from Labor governments and with all the best will and greatest efforts of the world that has never happened. Look, that’s one of those things that when I see the concrete being poured I’ll believe it. But until then I’ll take it as something done for political expediency at the time.

Adam Stephen: How about Big Rocks Weir are you more confident about that one, that’s $54 million the federal government would set aside?

Senator Macdonald: Well look that’s something the Federal Government has decided upon some time ago. I have to congratulate Frank Beveridge and Matt Canavan and myself, we have been putting a lot of work into that, and Lis Schmidt, the Mayor of Charters Towers. We’ve been working on this for some time, the government some time ago decided that it would be funded, the Hell’s gate project, is a doable project. Again it requires of course the approval of the owners of the river, which, as I always point out, are the Queensland Government, who are not real keen on these things. As far as the federal government is concerned we are very happy to fund that, which is something as I say Frank Beveridge and Matt Canavan and I have been working on for some time. The decision is made some time ago, and I’m pleased it was announced today and that that project can go ahead providing we can get the approval from the Queensland Government who own the river.

Adam Stephen: So that’s your caveat on all of these about people getting too excited as there is a lot of work that would need to get done even though the money might be set aside, the Queensland government would have to be happy with the proposals?

Senator Macdonald: That’s exactly right and look, Big Rocks Weir is something that is very very doable, it’s a great project and something that Frank Beveridge and I had a look at on the ground maybe a month or so ago. Its something that we are very keen to see happen, and its something I say the Government has agreed to fund subject to all of the necessary regulatory approvals which of course means the Queensland Government coming on board and that’s always problematic.

Adam Stephen: Why are you slightly more sceptical about Hughenden, its got a lot more money set aside for it.

Senator Macdonald: Well look to be quite honest I have spoken to the mayor about the project, but you know its very much in its infancy. I am not sure if there are any engineering works being done, there has been little in the way of business cases as I understand it. I understand the proposal requires resumption of land, dealing with land titles, which is a matter for the Queensland Government and the current land owners out there. So there is a long long long way to go for that, its nowhere near as advanced as the Hells Gate Proposal, which included the Big Rocks Weir, the Nullinga Dam up Cairns way. These projects have been subject to very serious feasibility studies and subject to a lot of investigation, this one at Hughenden, I’d love to see something happen at Hughenden and also Richmond. There are a lot of proposals around and have been over the years, this one is sort of out of left field, and as I say, I’ll believe it when I see the first block of cement poured.

Adam Stephen: Alright well Senator Macdonald thank you for joining us this afternoon on Northern Drive.

Senator Macdonald: Its always my pleasure.

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