The proposed Big Rocks Weir site. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
The proposed Big Rocks Weir site. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

State dusts off 1930s water plan for new review

AN independent expert panel will assess the viability of a decades-old water scheme as part the Queensland's Government economic recovery plan.

The Bradfield Scheme will undergo its first government assessment in more than 15 years, with a report expected in the next 12 month into the scheme's feasibility.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will today announce the panel, which includes Queensland Farmers Federation chief executive officer Georgina Davis and James Cook University Professor Allan Dale.

Engineer John Bradfield first proposed the scheme in the 1930s, with plans to use floodwaters, and a portion of the normal flow, of the Tully, Herbert, Burdekin, Clarke and Flinders rivers to create flow of water from North Queensland to the border.

Water has been a bargaining point in the lead up to the October 31 state election with the Liberal National Party proposing the New Bradfield Scheme. Minor parties Katter's Australian Party and NQ First have both announced water security plans contingent on securing the balance of power.

Ms Palaszczuk said building on the state's agricultural strengths and a $50 billion infrastructure investment, this scheme could compliment Queensland's economic recovery.

The panel's job will be to assess the financial, economic, environmental, social and technical viability of the Bradfield Scheme, or a "Bradfield like" concept, and make recommendations for any further assessment.

"We know that access to affordable water for irrigation can foster expanded agribusiness and jobs in regional Queensland," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"As the globe faces harsh economic headwinds, it's important to continue to capitalise on opportunities here in our state.

"Projects like this have the potential to support a new generation of farmers, landholders and regional communities if it's done be done in a way that is realistic and affordable.

"By continuing to have a strong health response, we're able to look towards the future with exciting projects like this and keep delivering on Queensland's plan for economic recovery."

Minister for Natural Resources Dr Anthony Lynham. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)
Minister for Natural Resources Dr Anthony Lynham. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the new examination would look at the project from a 21st century perspective, including considering climate change, the impact on the Great Barrier Reef of diverting natural water flows, native title, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' cultural connections.

The idea was first proposed in 2019, with Dr Lynham saying the state offered to work with the Commonwealth on the scheme.

"The Queensland Government is not waiting any longer: we are taking the lead and comprehensively re-examining a Bradfield Scheme concept," he said.

Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said significant investigations had already been done into projects that could be part of a Bradfield-style scheme.

"Any Bradfield project must start with water storage in the north - and that's already happening," he said.

"There's three business cases underway or in hand - raising Burdekin Falls Dam, Hells Gate Dam and Big Rocks Weir and Urannah Dam has been declared a co-ordinated project."

The panel is due to report back to within a year.

 

Originally published as State dusts off 1930s water plan for new review

State Government's announced plans to review the viability of the Bradfield Scheme.
State Government's announced plans to review the viability of the Bradfield Scheme.