by Peter Carruthers
USING local businesses, creating jobs and cutting red tape is the key to getting Proserpine back on its feet.
That's the message from Shadow Minister for Tourism David Crisafulli, who was in the region this week to talk eco-tourism and opportunities.
Also the Shadow Minister for the Great Barrier Reef and the Environment, Mr Crisafulli said the solution to stimulate Proserpine's economy was "jobs”.
"You can only grow those regional towns by creating employment,” he said.
"Proserpine is a community that in many ways reflects the community of Ingham that I grew up in.
"In response to the cyclone, the greatest gift the government can give is getting rid of all the red tape and bureaucracy - use local providers, create jobs and get people back on their feet and trading.”
Population growth has been stagnating in Proserpine compared to Airlie Beach and Cannonvale since 2006, and estimated population growth for the entire Whitsunday region is only expected to grow to 46,652 by the year 2036.
Mr Crisafulli suggested the long proposed Urannah Dam could be the catalyst needed to kickstart the Proserpine economy.
The rationale being, greater water availability would open up tracts of previously marginal land and enable greater sugar cane production and enable the growing of horticultural crops.
The community-run proponent of the dam, Bowen Collinsville Enterprise, estimates a provisional nett value of agricultural production to be $564.8 million if the dam is built.
"I know what dams have done in opening up opportunity for regional Australia and we haven't built one for years and years,” Mr Crisafulli said.
"Why haven't we built them? Because there are elements in the community, many of whom have never been to regional Queensland, think a dam is a bad economic outcome.
"But I disagree. Building a dam can make a cane farmer grow an extra 10 tonne an acre, it can make marginal country become viable.”
The Federal Government released $3 million for a feasibility study on the proposed Urannah Dam in April last year but the money has been tied up with the Queensland Labor Government and yet to be released.
Water supply minister Mark Bailey last year made no promises the dam would be built.
On the claim by the green movement that water from the dam would be guzzled by coal operations in the Bowen Basin, Mr Crisafulli said he "didn't mind multiple users tapping into it”.
"And I am not anti-coal. Because I know what it means for Queensland's bottom line,” he said.
"I support the sustainable coal industry and always will.”
However, Mr Crisafulli had reservations about the proposed $1 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund loan to Indian mining giant, Adani.
"The matter of government funding private sector proponents over the building of government infrastructure with that money is a matter the Federal Government need to have long hard look at,” Mr Crisafulli said.
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