Plugging the North West into the national grid, supporting the Hughenden irrigation project and Big Kennedy power projects are Bob Katter’s priorities for our region as the federal government moves into uncertain minority government territory.
The federal member for Kennedy said the decision to isolate North West Queensland on its own gird powered by the Diamantina Power Station was one of the most misguided in recent years.
Mr Katter said power prices were crucial to the success of ongoing mining projects in the region and that meant dusting off the mothballed Copper String project.
“Electricity is the only way we can cut costs,” Mr Katter said.
“We need to get to baseload power in the North West and that will only happen if we are connected to the eastern electricity network – That means linking Hughenden to Cloncurry”.
Mr Katter said the potential was there to put pressure on the government because it affected Townsville as well as the North West.
“If the smelter in Mount Isa closed that would take the fertiliser plant with it and that would take down the Townsville zinc refinery,” he said.
“If that happened the Liberals have as much chance of winning the election as I have of becoming an astronaut and going to Mars.”
Mr Katter said there were potential opportunities in conjunction with the hybrid wind and solar Big Kennedy power project in Hughenden.
Phase I – Little Kennedy – to deliver 60 MW of solar energy has already been delivered while phase 2 Big Kennedy will provide up to 1200MW of wind energy.
“When I showed Anthony Albanese around the region, he said to me ‘that puts Copper String back on the agenda’,” he said.
“I used to think it would be a triangle of power between Big Kennedy, Hell’s Gate and Kidston, now I think it is to Mount Isa not Kidston.”
Mr Katter was also keen to talk up another Hughenden project, the Hughenden Irrigation Project (HIPCO) in the Flinders River and he urged the North Australian Infrastructure Fund to support it.
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“This project has national importance,” he said.
“The Hughenden Project is a pilot scheme for Julia Creek, Cloncurry, Normanton and other towns.”