Michael McCormack announces extra $500m for water projects
Michael McCormack has announced an extra $500m for water infrastructure projects, including dams, a near doubling of capital spending in the Coalition’s water infrastructure fund.
The acting prime minister and Nationals leader gave few details on Monday about which projects would benefit except that the funding would be used “to identify and co-fund the construction of new water infrastructure projects across regional Australia” with state and territory governments.
It’s still public infrastructure projects keeping the economy afloat | Greg Jericho Read more Labor attacked the announcement as a “thought bubble” and criticised the government’s record on water infrastructure.
The $500m funding commitment tops up the Coalition’s $520m national water infrastructure development fund, which has already been committed to projects, and comes after the Coalition set up a $2bn water infrastructure loan facility.
McCormack said the Coalition “aren’t afraid to back dams – we want to build more of them”.
“If we want to create jobs and grow regional Australia then we need to add water,” he said.
“This announcement will turbocharge the construction of water infrastructure in regional Australia because our agricultural industries expect it and our communities deserve it.” The only projects nominated to gain from the $500m cash injection are: a $2m feasibility study to increase water supply in Queensland’s north and south Burnett regions; $1m to help Western Australia’s southern forest irrigation scheme pass regulatory hurdles; and $250,000 to help design Victoria’s coldstream recycled water pipeline.
Labor’s agriculture spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, said the announcement “is just another dam thought bubble driven by political desperation”.
“People in Queensland will understandably be sceptical,” he said.
On Monday the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, did little to dampen expectations of a big-spending mid-year economic outlook, refusing to rule out the possibility that the government would use the update to bring forward its income tax cut plan.