NEW DAM: New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, and Deputy Premier John Barilaro at the existing Dungowan Dam.
The Federal and State Coalition Governments will deliver a $1 billion water infrastructure package for rural and regional communities impacted by the devastating drought in NSW, including two projects in the New England.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the package includes $480 million for construction of a new Dungowan Dam near Tamworth and an initial $24 million investment for the 100,000-megalitre Border Rivers project on the Mole River, near Tenterfield.
"The construction of dams is not just the water and the future and the security of regional Australia, regional New South Wales and most especially here in the Peel Valley, the construction of dams is a statement of confidence into the future of the cities and towns that are growing," Mr Joyce said, speaking from the site of the existing Dungowan Dam.
"If we want to decentralise Australia, we must invest in this sort of seminal infrastructure in our towns."
(** Read my editorial on the dams announcement here **)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Deputy Premier John Barilaro said both Liberal and Nationals governments had been working together to fund critical water infrastructure projects, including new and expanded dam projects.
“Our response to the ongoing drought impacting rural and regional communities is comprehensive and committed. It deals with immediate needs for financial assistance in and longer-term investments to build drought resilience for the future,” the Prime Minister said.
“And it’s not set and forget. We are continually adding to our drought response, saying loud and clear that we’re backing Australians who are battling the drought.
“Together we’ll also deliver a $650 million upgrade of Wyangala Dam in the state’s Central West.
“Our 50/50 investment with the state government in these priority large-scale water infrastructure projects will free up NSW funding to allow them to progress critical town water projects across NSW. We want to get these projects underway because this is about water supply and security.
“These projects don’t happen overnight but we’re working as quickly as possible to get all the necessary work done so we can start digging.
“We’re also investing an initial $24 million on a 50/50 basis with NSW for the 100,000-megalitre proposed Border Rivers project on the Mole River, near the Queensland border. This will ensure the project is shovel ready and help to identify the potential benefits that could flow on to irrigators and local communities in NSW and potentially Queensland.
“This funding brings our water infrastructure commitments to $1.5 billion across 21 projects that are committed or underway. This is part of more than $7 billion in drought support funding that we are already providing and have committed.”
Ms Berejiklian said the NSW Government has already committed close to $3 billion to drought relief and water security since 2017.
“In partnership with the Commonwealth, we will build the first new dam in NSW for more than 30 years. The last was Split Rock Dam on the Manilla River in 1987. That’s why today’s announcement is historic,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The NSW Government is working in lockstep with the Commonwealth to make absolutely certain all obstacles are cleared and these dams get built.
“Our regional and rural communities are doing it incredibly tough and that’s why we’re making this massive additional investment in partnership with the Commonwealth Government.
“This builds on the NSW Government’s record $3 billion in drought support and water security announced since 2017, including funding for 60 bores across 23 communities and 14 pipelines, such as that from Wentworth to Broken Hill.
“Dams and other water infrastructure are an important part of the mix when it comes to increasing supply and reliability so that NSW’s water supply is more resilient to the terrible drought being experienced across the eastern states.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the funding would prioritise all necessary business case development and design works.
“We are already making significant investments in water infrastructure capital projects nationwide and today’s announcement signals a major acceleration of that commitment,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“No one should doubt our commitment to getting these sorts of projects done in partnership with all states and territories – our $1.3 billion National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility are in place to deliver the planning, assessment and construction work needed to build the water infrastructure of the 21st century.
“These projects will fit into our strategic plan for improving regional water security through water infrastructure led by the National Water Grid Authority.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales John Barilaro said the NSW Government has been getting on with building critical water infrastructure projects but this was a significant turning point to future-proof the state.
“Only last week I was pleased to officially switch on the $12.85 million Malpas Dam to Guyra pipeline in the Northern Tablelands region, a project completed on time and under budget by the NSW Government,” the Deputy Premier said.
“This partnership with the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government will mean more projects, in faster time frames.
“Our priority is to get these major projects off the ground as quickly as possible, to combat ‘day zero’ and help regional and rural communities in NSW get through this devastating drought.”
Formalised agreements between the Federal and NSW Governments outlining the timeframes will be finalised shortly.