NULLINGA Dam would underpin additional agricultural production worth $200 million a year to Far North Queensland, according to data that will be presented to the nation’s top politicians this week.
The dam, which is considered vital to long-term water security for the Cairns region and the continued growth of Far North Queensland’s agriculture sector, tops a list of regional priorities Mayor Bob Manning is taking to Canberra on Tuesday.
Cr Manning is ramping up the case for increased investment in Cairns in the lead-up to this year’s federal election.
A document outlining 11 key priorities for the Cairns region has been produced in time for Cr Manning’s arrival in Canberra tomorrow as part of an FNQROC mayoral delegation.
“As Cairns’ population grows, an additional water supply will be essential. If we continue on the current growth trajectory, we’ll have a regional population of 570,000 by 2050.
“More broadly, Nullinga Dam is vital to the further growth of Far North Queensland’s agricultural industry, which already leads the way in Northern Australia and is placed to become one of the country’s most important food bowls.
“This in turn would lead to maximising our export and distribution industries and support countless jobs across the region.”
The Cairns federal election priorities are based on the outcomes of the Cairns 2050 Shared Vision – a project that brought together key city stakeholders to map out a joint action plan for economic growth and enhanced liveability.
“The Shared Vision has the support of our business sector and community leaders and has given us a platform to lobby government on behalf of the Cairns region.”
Among the commitments sought both sides of federal parliament is a $13.3 million contribution towards the estimated $39.8 million capital cost of a new Gallery Precinct; extension of the National Land Transport Network to Smithfield; and funding commitments to deliver capacity improvements on this key road corridor.
In region-based projects, commitments are being sought for expansion of HMAS Cairns and its facilities; a detailed review of the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest management structures; resources and funding toward renewable energy projects; and an enhanced relationship with Papua New Guinea, with a view to establishing a joint bid between Cairns and Papua New Guinea for a team to enter the National Rugby League.
“I’ll be taking the opportunity this week to bring attention to some of these key projects, but that certainly won’t be the end of those discussions,” Cr Manning said.
“The aim is to engage both sides of parliament on these matters and continue meet and discuss the potential outcomes and benefits in the coming months.
“In some cases, we’re already engaged in ongoing discussions with key Ministers and Shadow Ministers and some progress has been achieved. But, with an election looming, it’s time to take that discussion to the next level.
“Cairns is vital to the Queensland and national economies and we are certainly due for some big investment from the top level of government.”