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Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Page: 8430


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (19:55): I rise to say a few words this evening. I will just paint a quick picture of what might be. In Australia, for a long time now, we have not been able to grasp a vision of what might be for our country. There was a very great man who built a bridge in Sydney called the Sydney Harbour Bridge; Dr Bradfield was his name. He won an international prize for engineering—not for the bridge, actually, but for the underground railway system, which was considered to be the most superior underground railway system in the world at the time. He also built the Story Bridge in Brisbane, the University of Queensland's sandstone buildings, Burrinjuck Dam and Hume Weir. An electorate of the House of Representatives is named after him. The highways over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Story Bridge in Brisbane are named after him as well.

Dr Bradfield conceived the scheme of taking a tiny bit of the vast waters of the superwet belt of North Queensland and turning them back into Lake Eyre. The revised Bradfield scheme conceives not of taking that water and turning it into Lake Eyre but using it on the great inland plains of Queensland. He proposed an alternative of digging a ditch up from Spencer Gulf, which has been costed recently at about $4½ thousand million. It would fill Lake Eyre and would put 30 million megalitres of evaporation water over the Murray-Darling system. The Murray-Darling system has 22 million megalitres of run-off. It is blown up against the inside of the Great Dividing Range, and I think it is reasonable to accept that it would be precipitation. Modelling has been done which indicates that that would not occur. These scientists have to explain to me where the water is going to go! If it blows from the ocean up against the Great Dividing Range on one side, it rains. If it blows from this side, surely it should rain as well.

I am not talking about the Bradfield scheme now. I will just switch to three water development schemes in North Queensland. There is the Pentland scheme, and we thank the federal government and also the opposition very much and very sincerely for their enthusiasm for the Pentland scheme, which will produce 1,000 megalitres of ethanol a year to replace our dwindling oil supplies and produce petrol at an affordable rate, as is done in the United States and Brazil. It will also produce 400 megawatts of baseload power. For those who are not familiar with the figures, we have capacity to produce about 40,000 megawatts in Australia, and this would produce 400 megawatts of power. So it is a marvellous scheme. That scheme can be doubled on the Gilbert River, which is nine million megalitres of water all running into the ocean each year in a quick flood. People sometimes envisage that when we put a dam across we somehow stop our rivers from running in North Queensland. You will never stop the rivers from running no matter how many dams you put down; and later in the year, no matter how many dams you put down, you will not be able to make them run either. So we really do not change the ecology much at all with these proposals. Three times the size of the Pentland scheme is the Burdekin River scheme. There is also the Mitchell River, Australia's biggest river, now bigger than the Murray-Darling.

Those three schemes together will provide six million megalitres and 600,000 hectares of irrigation, which will take only two per cent of Northern Australia's water, and only one per cent of North Queensland's land will be taken up by these schemes. Yet they will yield $8,000 million for the Australian economy each and every year forever. I might add that I am not an advocate of clean power, but the schemes would produce very, very clean power indeed. Eight thousand million dollars, of course, translates into 80,000 jobs for regional Australia and the desperately needed lift that will turn around so much of agriculture in our country and rescue the sugar, cattle and grains industries.

The SPEAKER: Order! It being 8 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 20:00