By Jeremy Sollars
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack is hopeful of meeting with Queensland Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham this month in a bid to secure State Government support for Stanthorpe’s long-awaited Emu Swamp Dam.
The DPM toured the site of dam with local federal Maranoa MP and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud on Wednesday of this week, with the two reiterating federal support for the project and an anticipated $42 million contribution from Canberra.
Mr McCormack also met with Granite Belt producers to hear about what the new dam would mean for water security and agriculture.
A spokeswoman told the Free Times the DPM had this week written to Dr Lynham requesting a meeting about the dam by the end of February.
Mr Littleproud has previously said it could not proceed without the support of Queensland’s Palaszczuk Government, saying the state “owns the (water) resource”.
Granite Belt producers have pre-committed $24 million for Emu Swamp Dam and with its latest estimated cost of around $84 million Mr Littleproud said he would welcome Queensland Government funding to help make up the shortfall, which could also be met with a loan from the Federal Government’s Regional Investment Corporation (RIC).
The Palaszczuk Government is yet to reveal its stance on the dam but Mr Littleproud last week said he had been having “very constructive” discussions in recent times with Minister Lynham.
Backers of the project – such as the Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce, which has been the chief ‘proponent’ – remain confident the dam will get the tick from the State Government, believing the project is as close to fruition as it has been in decades.
But they are also sensitive to the fact a federal election is due by the end of May and that securing State Government support must happen soon.
A spokesman for Mr Lynham last week told the Free Times the minister was on leave but that the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy “has been working closely with the proponent to finalise the detailed business case”.