Party politicking: Deputy PM talks Paradise Dam in Bundy
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack touched down in Bundaberg this morning, throwing support behind LNP candidates in the Queensland election and taking a shot at the State Government over Paradise Dam.
Mr McCormack addressed media alongside Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, incumbent Member for Bundaberg David Batt and incumbent Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett at Rowers on the River.
He extolled the Federal Budget handed down last week, saying it was a budget tailored to the regions and infrastructure that would support 40,000 new employment opportunities.
"It was a budget for jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs," he said.
"We know that, particularly in the regions, that through COVID-19, these areas have been their best selves.
"Agricultural resources have held up, in fact, they've grown and despite the virus, despite drought, despite floods, despite bushfires, our regions have been exemplary."
Mr McCormack said last Tuesday's budget repaid a debt of gratitude to regional areas for their resilience in the pandemic.
"We want to be able to work with a Queensland government which is committed to the future, which has a vision, a bold plan to build more water infrastructure, to build better roads, to build better rail - that's the Deb Frecklington plan, that's the Steve Bennett plan, that's the David Batt plan and it's certainly Keith and my plan," he said.
"Now I know here it's a big, big region for fruit and veg, I met with stakeholders last night and again this morning to their bold vision for their future. Of course, Paradise Dam is very much part of that."
Mr McCormack described the potential of a federal and state LNP government working together as a "marriage made in heaven", outlining his party's plan for water infrastructure in Queensland.
The Deputy PM said the government had allocated an additional one-and-a-half billion dollars, on top of an initial two billion dollars to invest in water infrastructure including the new Bradfield Scheme.
The water diversion scheme was originally proposed to droughtproof much of the western Queensland interior prior to World War II.
Ms Frecklington believes a new, modern version of the scheme could create numerous jobs and droughtproof much of the state.
"I want to make sure Keith, as the resources minister, as the water minister, has every opportunity not just to build Bundaberg but indeed to build the regions - regional Queensland and regional Australia."
Mr McCormack said Bundaberg and Fraser Coast councils were set to benefit from the budget, with more than $11 million allocated for roads and community infrastructure.
Mr Bennett also spoke, saying he believed the Federal Government had done the "heavy lifting" for the state.
Mr McCormack said he and Mr Pitt would get on the highway and talk with farmers, miners and councils about infrastructure needs, following his Bundaberg visit.
'No reason' why a lowered dam wall can't go back up
Mr McCormack addressed questions about Paradise Dam, saying there was no reason that the dam wall could not be restored of the 5.7m it was taken down by.
"Now, when you've got an area that's producing most of the nation's macadamias and avocadoes, lychees and so much other product … we need to make sure that Paradise Dam is what it ought to be, that it is unlocking potential and is growing agriculture," he said.
"It needs to be fixed, so I am happy to work with Deb Frecklington, she has said that she has a plan to be able to look at it and fix the dam."
Mr McCormack took aim at the State Government, saying it was "their piece of infrastructure" and was riddled with issues.
Mr McCormack said the Federal Government had not allocated a set amount to aiding the dam's repair because it was too hard to know exactly what was needed without deeper inquiry and with an election 17 days away.
"Let's get the full explanation as to what the impact is, what is required, let's get some dollar amounts on the table as far as how much money is required and then we can go forward, but it's a bit difficult a couple of weeks out from an election to say what exactly needs to be done when all the details of that commission of inquiry aren't published."
Mr Pitt said the dam was the biggest issue constituents were raising with him.
"There is only one side of politics that is committed to fixing it, that is the Queensland opposition, through the work of Stephen and David," he said.
"I will absolutely fight for every single dollar that is required for that repair and reinstatement, it is critical for our future and this region.
"If the State Government can find billions of dollars for the Cross River Rail, they can find their way to the regions and fund something which is critical for Queensland."