ON THEIR SIDE: One Nation Senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts with Coalstoun Lakes producers and members of the Coalstoun Lakes Development Group.
ON THEIR SIDE: One Nation Senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts with Coalstoun Lakes producers and members of the Coalstoun Lakes Development Group. Alex Treacy

One Nation approves of Burnett irrigation scheme

AN AMBITIOUS plan put forward by irrigators in the North Burnett to get the water flowing from one of Queensland's most underutilised dams has received the support of key crossbench senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.

As part of their weekend tour of the Maryborough region, the One Nation senators received a presentation from the Coalstoun Lakes Development Group, which has a plan to connect Paradise Dam, 35km to Biggenden, to the Tarong Pipeline, a key conduit in southeast Queensland's water infrastructure network.

This would allow water from Paradise Dam to supplement the water from Boondooma Dam used for Tarong Power Station, thus freeing up irrigators in the South Burnett who rely on Boondooma Dam and are cut off when water levels fall too low as the supply must be conserved for the power station.

According to the former Department of Energy and Water Supply, Paradise Dam's water utilisation rate is only around 47 per cent of available supply, while its storage levels average 90 per cent.

The pipeline would be subsidised by integrating a pumped hydro energy storage station into its length, which the group hopes would attract private investment.

It is designed in such a way that the majority of the pipeline would run downhill, allowing for gravity to do the lion's share of the transportation, further lowering costs.

The group's Terry Staib, who delivered the presentation, said if the plan's three stages were adopted, it had the potential to create 1000 jobs in the inland Burnett and turbocharge agricultural output, adding $1 billion to the gross regional product.

"You've got my full support,” Senator Hanson said.

"Give me a figure I can sell in Canberra.

"Money is always the issue.”

Senator Hanson suggested the group's project was more deserving of investment than the $500 million the Federal Government was diverting to Pacific nations to help build resilience against climate change.

Senator Roberts was also impressed by the proposal.

"This is a no-brainer, just from agricultural production alone,” he said.

However, the senators expressed reservations about the pumped-hydro aspect of the scheme.

"Forget about hydro, the important thing is to get the water here first,” Senator Hanson said.

Senator Roberts, meanwhile, said pumped-hydro was only economical because of Australia's exorbitant energy prices.

He made the suggestion, as a way of financing the project, approaching both the State and Federal governments to ask for a loan to partially fund the project, as a way of putting "skin in the game” and showing how confident the group is in its proposal.

The group's secretary is providing a more detailed breakdown of costs to the senators to help assist them in championing the project.

Click here to view the full study.