Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced the construction of the $5.4 billion Hells Gates Dam project in north Queensland. If the project comes to fruition, it could create the most expensive water in the country.
Water experts and farmers warn the water would be too expensive to buy if government cost-recovery principles are followed. Joyce announced the funding for the long-talked-about project in March, and it dwarfs almost any announcement made so far during the federal election campaign.
Holding 2,100 gigalitres of water, the Hells Gates Dam would be the largest in Queensland, and proponents believe it could turn some of the state's driest cattle country into a 60,000-hectare irrigated food bowl.
Professor Stuart Khan, from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW, was, until recently, a member of the federal government's National Water Grid Advisory Body. He said Mr. Joyce abolished the body just days after announcing Hells Gates Dam had received budget funding and revealed that the government had not sought its advice on the project.
Khan says he's a ‘huge fan’ of dams but doesn't believe the Hells Gates proposal will stack up: "It was really frustrating and disappointing to see decisions being made that aren't consistent with the principles of the National Water Initiative … and really look like they're being made in the lead-up to a federal election, potentially as a way of winning votes.”
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