THREE levels of Government congregated at Riverside Station outside of Hughenden today to unveil the foundation stone representing the future site of the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme, a federally funded project which will irrigate over 10,000 hectares of farmland.
KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter was flanked by State counterpart Robbie Katter, Assistant Minister for Roads Scott Buchholz, as well as economic mastermind Sir Leo Hielscher as they spoke to media and project stakeholders beside 100 hectares of irrigated pasture, a visual demonstration of what’s possible with the Hughenden Irrigation Project Corporation (HIPCo) on a bigger scale.
Mr Katter praised the HIPCo Board in his speech and said that the irrigation scheme will turn-around Hughenden and other western towns.
“This is a board that is made up of businessmen. They are doing the work themselves, they are owner operators and the worker operators as well. They are ordinary blokes doing something to ensure their survival.
“We will divide this area of 10,000 hectares up into 100 or so farms for people to graze and fatten cattle year-round and instead of running 7-8 ox to a hectare we run 20-30 to a hectare.
“Process is what bogs these projects down. If you can’t make a decision on a simple matter like a dam at Hughenden then you are not the Government of Australia.
“I don’t want to assume that the state government is hostile to these projects but if they get in our way then I will kick ‘em to death.
“In every single federal case where the government intervened in the past, the Franklin Dam case, in the Fraser Island case, in the case of Mabo, in all those cases the Federal Government won so it can be done.
“If you’re living in the mid-west towns, start making your preparations now because the water is coming. It is coming.”
Retired Sir Leo Hielscher AC who was Chairman of the Treasury Corporation for 22 years and is considered to be an “architect of the modern Queensland economy” flew from Brisbane attended the event and spoke of its importance to the Queensland region.
“Really I haven’t been out of retirement, I haven’t started that yet. But I have for many, many years had the old Bradfield Scheme modified in my sights. During my career I had a lot of things like that and I seemed to achieve most of them except this one and I see what we have seen today as the model for the big scheme that we are talking about.”
Robbie Katter said that having the likes of Sir Leo out to an event such as this lifts the spirits of the people and gives a great deal of credibility to the public.
“As a public servant, he is the one with the runs on the board and he has every right to be listened to by everyone else that has followed him.
“It is a great moment for the mid-weest. This is the tipping point now for opening up irrigation development and fight off drought and the floods and iron out the bumps in the cattle grazing industry.”
Robbie Katter said he would continue to advocate in the state government to manage any road blocks.
“We are the custodians of the land up here, he said.
“We set to look after and manage this land. We can do it better than anyone else in and I hope they appreciate that in helping us go forward” he said.