01/07/03       120481fSugarcane harvest season begins at Eudlo Flats.
01/07/03 120481fSugarcane harvest season begins at Eudlo Flats. Warren Lynam

Water viability study acquires govt funding

FUNDING for the Gayndah Regional Irrigation Development Project and Water Feasibility Study has been approved by the State Government.

Interim funding of $1,231,024 (excluding GST) for the study was granted and will be spent on gauging if the Gayndah area can sustain a large sugar cane crop.

The government set aside $15 million in interim funding to support Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's federally-funded National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Queensland Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey said Mr Joyce had made a mess of the fund, leaving the state government to come up with a solution.

"A total of 15 proponents in Queensland were offered funds for feasibility studies under the Turnbull Government's NWIDF," Mr Bailey said.

"Mr Joyce failed to tell these proponents they would only receive funding in arrears.

"Many of these proponents are small, not-for-profit organisations and local governments seeking to support regional economic development."

Mr Bailey said the State Government would fill the gap left by Mr Joyce and provide interim funding arrangements.

"The interim funding provided by the State Government will enable project proponents to work closely with the State to finalise project milestones and formal arrangements," Mr Bailey said.

Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd welcomed the announcement.

"It's been a long time coming and I'm pleased the Queensland Government have come forward with this package to have the feasibility study done," Mr O'Dowd said.

"We need that extra water infrastructure for agriculture needs, to meet FTA agreements and we have to make sure we have water there and at the right places.

"That is what the feasibility study will look into. It won't be detrimental to citrus farmers, as there will be extra water and an extension of the Claude Wharton Weir."

Mr O'Dowd also spoke about some possible benefits.

"More jobs in the Gayndah area in the form of planting cane, harvesting cane and maintenance of the railway line," Mr O'Dowd said.

"The old railway line that has been discussed for 10 years will come back into force and moves are already afoot by Isis Sugar Mill which controls the railway line."

The study will focus on water infrastructure.