The National Irrigators Council (NIC) has today welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to building Hells Gates Dam in Queensland.

NIC Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jeffrey said: “Water infrastructure which is built in the right locations at the right time can secure Australia’s food security while helping to protect the environment. What people often forget is that dams also store water for the environment which is released to keep local rivers flowing, and flora and fauna growing and thriving.

“Today’s announcement of $5.4 billion for the Hells Gates Dam will create 60,000 hectares of new irrigation farmland in Queensland. Irrigation farmers grow over fifty percent of our sugar, over seventy-six percent of our vegetables and over ninety percent of our fruit, nuts and grapes. This project will help put food on dining tables and clothes on backs.

“Irrigated agriculture contributes over $18 billion to our national economy and creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs throughout regional areas of Australia. This project will add to those figures, including 3,000 ongoing jobs, and help Australia achieve its goal of $100 billion in agricultural production by 2030.

“NIC backs sensible infrastructure investment which helps mitigate climate and drought risks, and we welcome this investment.”

The National Irrigators’ Council convenes the Agriculture Energy Taskforce – a group of peak agriculture bodies in Australia – with the goal of securing affordable and reliable energy for regional areas.

“Projects such as the Hells Gates have enormous potential to not only secure our water future, but to generate energy through hydro power generation,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“The Deputy Prime Minister in announcing the project noted the potential for Hells Gates to become a hydro generation dam. This investment would help add competition to a limited power market in Queensland and help drive down costs by providing clean, green, renewable energy.

“Farmers need affordable and reliable energy to ensure they can keep their businesses running, while also helping to lower the cost of food and fibre for customers. NIC and the Ag Energy Taskforce have consistently called for governments to cap energy costs for regional users at eight cents for electrons and eight cents for network costs.

“The Hells Gates Dam is an example of a project which will deliver water security, build our agricultural capacity, ensure our food security into the future and generate renewable energy, while creating local jobs and supporting the environment and farmers through periods of drought.

“NIC encourages the Queensland Government and other stakeholders to back the project.”

Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890