TO irrigate and create flourishing inland Queensland communities rich in their diversity and productivity, Kennedy MP Bob Katter has tabled a blueprint to Federal Parliament to achieve what he calls “the Australian dream”.
A long term and passionate advocate of Dr John Bradfield’s inland irrigation scheme, Mr Katter, has tabled a “rebadged and rejigged” version of the proposal, titled The Queensland Great Dividing Range Scheme, authored by “the architect of the modern Queensland economy” – Sir Leo Hielscher AC, along with Sir Frank Moore AO, Ian Macallister and Detulf Sulzer.
The scheme, in summary, catches water in a series of dams along the Great Dividing Range in North Queensland, that would ordinarily wash out to sea each year via several channels including the Herbert, Tully and Burdekin rivers.
It involves the construction of Hells Gates Dam, the diversion of the Upper Herbert into the Upper Burdekin River, the construction of hydro power and, of course, a diversion of water to west of the range, into Flinders River and subsequent inland channels to create a “Garden of Eden” on rich black soil plains.
Mr Katter said he tabled the visionary document in parliament to “bring to the attention of the Australian nation that one of the most distinguished Australians of the last half century was in his 90s and spending his time to save his country”.
“Sir Leo Hielscher realises the vision of taking a tiny little bit of water in North Queensland, where it rains all the time and sending it inland to create farms, jobs for contractors, $20 to $30m of income for this country,” Mr Katter said.
“Why wouldn’t you do this? Is there a single reason on the planet why you wouldn’t do this?
“Part of the area that would be benefitting has 23,000 square kilometres of prickly acacia tree that absorbs no CO2—I’m not going to go into the reasons why—that has wiped out all native flora and fauna. Surely it would be better to grow something that will take CO2.”
The authors of the document state the scheme is needed because “the north-western planes of Queensland are not producing to their achievable capacity, to the detriment of the economies of the north-west, central-west, the State and the Nation – because of lack of water”.
“At present this precious water flows into the Pacific Ocean during the summer months, leaving as good as no water for the dry season during the winter months,” the scheme reads.
“The western regions of Queensland are presently declining in relevance. This is evident by the population reductions in these areas, the closing of banks and shops, and families are disrupted, as students are sent away for higher education, do not return home. There is no vocation and future for them in western Queensland today.
“The Queensland Great Dividing Range Scheme will stop this decline, already during construction period.”