It has been a terrific week of major announcements for Townsville and our region, and today Prime Minister Scott Morrison kept the ball rolling with a $54M commitment to Stage 1 of Hells Gates.
Importantly, this included $24M for the first stage of Big Rocks Weir at Charters Towers – a component of the Hells Gate Project that has been championed strongly by Charters Towers Mayor, Liz Schmidt. The remaining $30M is for detailed engineering and construction works to advance the broader Hells Gates Project.
Hells Gates is part of a long-term vision to develop northern Australia by securing new sources of water and energy to expand irrigated agriculture and grow export industries. The recently completed Hells Gates Dam Feasibility Study by SMEC identified that the $5.35 billion project on the upper Burdekin River was viable.
Townsville Enterprise managed the study process and with our Council partners in Townsville, Charters Towers, Burdekin, Hinchinbrook and Palm Island we have worked to build the case for Government funding. Today that work was rewarded and we applaud the Federal Government for its commitment to a project that we believe can fundamentally transform the economics of our region into the future.
Hells Gates is a project that exists beyond the electoral cycles. It is a once in a generation project that complements the Burdekin scheme and offers the potential for major new agricultural opportunities to open up in our region and export high value crops into emerging markets into the Asia-Pacific.
In particular, we wish to acknowledge a number of people who have worked tirelessly to delivery this opportunity. Thank you to the Minister for Northern Australia Senator Matt Canavan, Senator Ian Macdonald, and the Member for Dawson George Christensen.
Thank you also to the Member for Kennedy Bob Katter for his extraordinary advocacy for the project over a long period. This is a project Bob has been exceptionally passionate about and today it has become real.
We look forward to working through the details of this commitment with the Government and getting on with the job.