$18m announcement 'a stunt'

Utilitas will bring an $18m biorefinery to the region.
Utilitas will bring an $18m biorefinery to the region. Uwe Znker

MEMBER for Burnett Stephen Bennett has slammed the Labor State Government, saying they are taking credit for work done by the Bundaberg Regional Council.

THE LNP member claimed the announcement of the $18 million biorefinery at East Bundaberg on Wednesday had very little to do with the State Government and labelled it a "stunt".

Premier Annastascia Palaszczuk announced Queensland-based biohub developer Utilitas was looking at converting waste from the Bundaberg Rum Distillery into green electricity for return to the distillery, and biocrude.

The plant would take over the old Bundaberg East sewerage works and create 30 jobs.

But Mr Bennett claimed all the hard work was done by the council and all the State Government was doing was putting in "$200,000 to pay for a couple of scientists".

"It is a private, council partnership," Mr Bennett said.

"This has very little to do with the government."

The NewsMail contacted The Bundaberg Regional Council to confirm Mr Bennett's claims.

After two emails to their media team, the council declined to comment.

But in a media release on Wednesday, Mayor Jack Dempsey praised the project.

The release said Cr Dempsey welcomed the announcement by Minister for State Development Dr Anthony Lynham that the State Government would accelerate funding in a biorefinery project proposed for the region.

"Council has been in early discussions with Utilitas regarding the East Bundaberg WWTP as a potential site for its operation and remains very optimistic and excited by the potential for this project," Cr Dempsey later said.

A spokesman for the State Government shut down Mr Bennett's claims.

"As Utilitas' CEO Ms Fiona Waterhouse said during today's (Wednesday) media conference, the State Government funding will bring forward early works for the biorefinery project," the spokesman said.

"The project is funded under the government's $4 million Biofutures Acceleration Program, which is helping to deliver a $1b pipeline of biotechnology and bioproducts industry that didn't exist two-and-a-half years ago.

"The Palaszczuk Government is leading Australia's biofutures revolution through Advance Queensland Biofutures 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan.

"While the LNP continues to talk down the economy, the Palaszczuk Government is helping to grow an industry and jobs."

Topics:  biorefinery bundaberg regional council politics state government

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