Pictured above: Site for Hells Gate Dam. Photo courtesy Qld Register
The Morrison-Joyce Government has locked in $5.4 billion to build the Hells Gate Dam in North Queensland that will create thousands of jobs while delivering water security for the region, particularly for the agriculture sector.
Through the 2022–23 Budget, the Government will guarantee funding to build the dam, subject to the completion of the final stage of the business case, expected in June this year.
Hells Gates is anticipated to open up as much as 60,000 hectares of irrigation across three agricultural zones in the Burdekin, supported through a 2,100-gigalitre dam and bolstered by three downstream irrigation weirs.
The project is expected to create more than 7,000 jobs and inject up to $1.3 billion of Gross Regional Product (GRP) into North Queensland’s economy during construction alone.
During operations, new and expanded agricultural opportunities are expected to support more than 3,000 regional jobs and generate up to $6 billion in GRP.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said delivering water infrastructure in North Queensland was vital to securing a strong economy while supporting farmers and industry.
“We need to build more dams in Australia. Building dams makes our economy stronger by supporting our agricultural industries to realise their true potential,” the Prime Minister said.
“Water is a precious resource and we need more dams to better use that resource.
“We’ve done the homework on Hells Gate Dam and it’s now time to get on and build it. We’ve put our money on the table, so let’s cut the green tape, get the approvals and get it done.
“This dam will help turn the Burdekin region into an agricultural powerhouse, helping our farmers to stock supermarkets and feed Australia while also securing North Queensland’s water supply and security.
“This investment will kick off a jobs boom across North Queensland for years to come, creating thousands of jobs while generating work for small businesses across the entire north, including in Townsville.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the Government’s investment would help North Queensland realise its full potential.
“North Queensland holds enormous agricultural opportunity and this funding for Hells Gate is part of our plan to unlock this major irrigation expansion,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Irrigating the regional soils of the Burdekin will help the region realise its full potential as a producer of the food Australians and the world needs, driving us closer to taking agricultural production to over $100 billion a year by 2030. This will create more jobs and generate more wealth for our nation.
“The sooner water flows in the west, the sooner we can sell more products to the world and earn the money that will help make Australia as strong as possible as quickly as possible.
“We have put the money to build Hells Gate in the bank and we are ready to get on with the job.”
Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the project would have a significant flow-on effect for Townsville.
“We’ve backed this project right from the start because it is something that will create jobs and drive the economy forward,” Mr Thompson said.
“The Townsville Port is well-placed to handle exports from the region, especially after our forward planning and investment into the channel widening project.”
Special Envoy for Northern Australia and Senator for Queensland Susan McDonald said the Morrison-Joyce Government is serious about big-ticket projects in Northern Australia, not only to store water but to drive industry, agriculture, renewable energy and provide jobs to grow regional populations.
“The focus on our north has never been greater, and this focus has been backed by real action and a renewed vigour in how we provide the funding and regulatory framework needed to drive mining, grow business confidence, boost primary production and increase Indigenous involvement,” Senator McDonald said.
“We’re building roads, streamlining environmental approvals processes, and encouraging our mineral sector, making it easier for business to recruit workers and ensuring communities can thrive.
“The Northern Australia agenda is a significant undertaking that we are committed to seeing through.”
Today’s announcement builds on the suite of dams and water infrastructure projects the Coalition is already investing in and delivering across Queensland, including:
$600 million towards the restoration of Paradise Dam;
$505.65 towards the delivery and construction of Urannah Dam;
$183.6 million towards the Rookwood Weir;
$180 million towards the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme; and
$30 million towards the Big Rocks Weir.