Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Dawson MP George Christensen in Mackay, 2018.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Dawson MP George Christensen in Mackay, 2018.

Dawson wishlist: Dams, roads critical to CQ recovery

MEASURES to lower insurance premium costs and extend the National Water Infrastructure Development fund have topped Dawson MP George Christensen's Federal Budget wishlist.

Mr Christensen has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg requesting a number of measures which are "critical for the economies of Central and North Queensland".

The Federal Budget - one of the most important in Australia's history because of the impact of COVID-19 - will be handed down tomorrow.

The Dawson MP's letter advocated for more than 20 projects, from dams to roads and tourism projects.

"In addition to these measures, I am also asking for the creation, or extension of, a number of federally-funded programs which would assist this region to recover from the severe economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," Mr Christensen wrote.

Top of the list was a government-backed reinsurance pool to lower insurance premiums costs, followed by the water development fund extension.

Urannah Creek, site of the proposed Urannah Dam, west of Mackay.
Urannah Creek, site of the proposed Urannah Dam, west of Mackay.

He said this fund would secure "drought-busting and job-creating" water projects, such as the $70 million required to get the Urannah Dam to financial close.

Mr Christensen's wishlist also included a "boost to Bruce Highway funding with a long-term plan for a four-lane upgrade from Brisbane to Cairns" and money to upgrade the Goorganga Plains section of the highway, south of Proserpine.

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The Mackay Whitsunday region could be in for some budget sweeteners in the form of cash for exciting tourism and future-proofing projects, with the Dawson MP requesting a permanent regional growth fund program.

He said projects which could be delivered under this fund included the Burdekin Renewables Project ($4m), the Whitsunday Skyway Project stage one ($10m), a Whitsunday Coast Airport upgrade to international capacity ($20m), a multistorey disaster carpark in Airlie Beach ($15m) and $20m for the Mackay Regional Council Waterfront project.

 

The view from the top of the Whitsunday Skyway proposed development.
The view from the top of the Whitsunday Skyway proposed development.

Mr Christensen also wants a Building Better Regions Fund focused on tourism areas to deliver projects such as the Whitsunday Mountain Bike Trail ($1.8m) and a Burdekin Shire Council industrial land precinct ($5.2m).

He also requested a fund for community sporting groups and the delivery of a Veteran Wellness Hub Program in Mackay.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the 2020-21 budget would focus on supporting Australia's economic recovery post COVID-19.

"COVID-19 has caused severe economic contractions the world over, and to help cushion the blow for Australians the Morrison-McCormack Government has provided an unprecedented level of support to households and businesses," she said.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in his office ahead of tomorrow’s budget. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in his office ahead of tomorrow’s budget. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

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Ms Landry said the Federal Government had already made several pre-budget announcements which would help the region.

This included a $250 million regional tourism package, an extension of the Regional Airline Network Support program to March 28 2021 and a five-year extension to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.


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