Don’t just unthinkingly blame Barnaby Joyce for reigniting controversy within the Coalition on the eve of the election by spruiking a controversial policy, previously discarded by the Queensland State government, for a government subsidized coal-fired power plant in North Queensland.
It has actually been the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, energetic conservative Queensland Senator Matt Canavan’s idea. He argues that despite the capital cost, it would deliver jobs, and he hopes, cheaper power for consumers. However he discounts environmental risks that are fresh in the minds of many
Queenslanders after a summer of extreme weather with drought, bush-fires, cyclones, floods and coral reef damage.
His admirable unswerving support of coal could prove a brave call, both for him, and the government’s chances of re-election. Has he given any thought to how such disasters could be tackled, rather than aggravated as he proposes?
There is a scheme, moth-balled since 1938, but raised from time to time by politicians including former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, that could deliver benefits for North Queenslanders in the face of climate change. I refer to what is known as the Bradfield Scheme after Queensland born civil engineer Dr John Bradfield, designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Brisbane’s Story Bridge.
It is an inland irrigation scheme that diverts some river flow from the upper reaches of the Tully, Herbert and Burdekin rivers into the Thomson River on the Western side of the Great Dividing Range. In a boost for agriculture, it would irrigate more than 7,800 sq. km, cap erosion in Central Queensland, provide hydro-electric power, help control flooding, and likely improve the health of the Reef
It is a project that has hitherto been considered too expensive to implement but in the light of the cost of disaster relief, Matt Canavan for the Coalition, or an incoming Labor Administration, must surely explore the possibility of a modern version of the Bradfield Scheme.