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Splashing money around for a dam

man holding a jar of cash I wonder whether there are people reading this who have business ideas that they aren’t sure will return a profit. You’re not alone. However, some businesses seem to find it easy to get a helping hand from government to do the work that should be their own responsibility.

Last week the Federal Government announced that another $12.65 million of taxpayers money would be given to a private company, Bowen River Utilities, to enable them to complete their Final Business Case for the proposed Urannah Dam and irrigation scheme.

That’s on top of $10 million previously handed over to the same private company in 2019 to finish their detailed business case and $3 million in 2018 for a preliminary business case.

Another $2 million has been handed over to the hydro scheme that has been tacked on to the project, possibly to give it a green tick.

That’s a lot of taxpayers money being given away to a private company to work out whether their business idea stacks up.

In February 2021, Bowen River Utilities said they had completed their final business case and would release it later that month. Nothing has seen the light of day. Last week another $12.65 million was given to the project to do work that the company says it has previously completed, presumably with the $10 million handed out in 2019.

I’m sure there are many business people in Mackay who would love to have taxpayers cover the cost of developing their business plan and obtaining all the approvals necessary to start it up.

Of course, a private company has to make a profit to survive. If the Urannah Dam did ever go ahead it would have to sell the water at a price that covers the cost of construction and maintenance as well as returning a reasonable return to shareholders.

Who would end up paying for that? Of course that would be mostly farmers. The same farmers who have said that current water prices are too high.

Mackay Conservation Group agrees with farmers in the Lower Burdekin who say that the best solution to water security is water efficiency. Purchasing new irrigation equipment that doesn’t use as much water costs money but nowhere near the cost of constructing a new dam.

Urannah Dam was first proposed in the 1960s. It didn’t stack up financially then and it still doesn’t.

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  • Peter McCallum
    published this page in Blog 2021-09-03 16:27:26 +1000