Article – CQ food bowl gains support

10 October 2014
Inga Stunzner
Queensland Country Life
CENTRAL Queensland is a step closer to become the food bowl of Australia with its regional mayors endorsing a grand agriculture plan.
The project, Growing Central Queensland, is looking at potential agriculture precincts in the agriculture corridors of the Fitzroy, Dawson and Mackenzie rivers, and the Gladstone Agribusiness Logistics.
Regional Development Australia Fitzroy and Central West (RDAFCW) chairman Paul Bell said it was great to see a regional cooperative approach; consultation showed shires, infrastructure providers and industry stakeholder were on board the project.
“Significant water infrastructure has the potential to increase agricultural output by 25 per cent in the Fitzroy region through expansion and intensification of agriculture,” he said.
With the federal government prioritising water resource projects, the proposal is to raise the dam wall at Eden Bann Weir and build a new weir at Rockwood, near Rockhampton.
The mega dam proposed by Sir Graham McCamley and Rockhampton businessman Dominic Doblo is not on the list.
Three tiers of government are behind the regional push, with three federal MPs, taking to the skies to make an aerial inspection of dam sites and talk to local communities.
Senator Matt Canavan, Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry and Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd will take a report on central Queensland infrastructure projects to federal Treasurer Joe Hockey and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss later this month.
“We will be looking at all those projects as a central Queensland LNP team,” Mr Canavan said.
“We will take the ideas that we get from our consultations with the Queensland government and from our direct visits to the communities down to Canberra in the next parliamentary sitting period, particularly dams.”
A state government-funded project manager for Growing Central Queensland is coordinating the consultation process around the stakeholders within the region with a goal to develop and investment prospectus for launch at Beef 2015.
“It’s not just about building big things,” Councillor Bell said.
“This is about being smart and innovative with agriculture, building on the base we have through partnerships and providing a value chain for large-scale production.”
The region had good existing rail, port and road infrastructure, water security through the Fitzroy River and potentially expanded water infrastructure, he said.
“We have predominantly freehold land tenure and a federal and state government willing to coordinate on a local level to achieve outcomes.”
The Fitzroy region had the history and experience of managing agriculture around water infrastructure, with the Fairburn dam, he said.
“Through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines we have extensive mapping overlays to predict water security, soils productivity, and cropping potential that further complements that agricultural experience.”
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, hydroponic lettuce grower Darly Wilon, Emu Park, and federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry.
Courtesy of Queensland Country Life