Labor State and Federal members who are supposed to represent Townsville are whingeing about the Federal Budget not making any provision for Townsville's water crisis.
Let's be clear about this.
The Commonwealth Government is already funding feasibility studies into fourteen water infrastructure projects in Queensland - studies which the Queensland Government resisted delivering for over six months after they were announced. In the time it took for Queensland to agree to deliver the studies, other states accepted the funding, completed studies and lodged applications for construction funding.
The 2017 Budget again confirmed the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. Over the $247.5 million that has been committed nationally today, $170 million has been committed to northern Australia. This includes $130 million for the Rookwood Weir, which the Queensland Government refuses to get on board with.
The Budget also confirmed the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), which has oodles of money available for anyone who has a sensible, sustainable proposal for a solution to Townsville's water crisis. And let us not forget the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) which will happily look at water storage proposals that include a hydro-electricity component, and has more relaxed co-funding requirements than the NAIF.
Under the Australian Constitution, state governments are responsible for water management. The Commonwealth can’t make these decisions for them – as much as it would sometimes like to. But the Commonwealth is doing everything it can to put the right funding incentives in place.
If the Queensland Government or the Labor City Council were to make a sensible proposal, then it could have been addressed in the Budget, or it could be under review right now by one of the Commonwealth’s funding facilities.
But without any proposal coming forward, I'm not quite sure what more the Labor State and Federal members expect the Federal Government to do?
Perhaps they would be better off urging their mates in the State Government and the
Council to come forward with a business case for a sustainable proposal for water in Townsville.
Then the Commonwealth might be able to fund it!