It looks like the water shortage in Queensland has finally trumped the dam-hating Greenies. NSW take note
The $1 billion the Queensland government expects to earn from the sale of its power retailers will be used to build two new dams and set up a special infrastructure fund. Premier Peter Beattie said today his government would sell the retail arms of its power suppliers Energex and Ergon Energy, in a trade sale expected to earn more than $1 billion. The sale will take place in several tranches before the end of the year, ensuring the state market is ready for full retail contestability from July 1 next year.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Anna Bligh said the sale would not influence the government's Budget, which was in good shape and expected to deliver a "very healthy surplus" when brought down on June 6. Instead, the expected $1 billion windfall would be ploughed into a Queensland Future Growth Fund, to be managed by Treasury, with legislation ensuring proceeds are spent solely on infrastructure needs. The fund's first projects include financing two new dams, located along the Mary and Logan rivers in south-east Queensland, to be built by 2011.
The Mary River dam, north of Brisbane, will service Gympie and the Sunshine Coast - it will rival the size of Brisbane's Wivenhoe Dam. A second dam would also be built along the upper reaches of the Logan River, either at the already-proposed Wyaralong Dam site or at Tilleys Bridge, near Rathdowney, providing water to western areas including Ipswich, Springfield and Beenleigh. Two new weirs will also be built in central Queensland and $300 million invested in clean coal technology.
Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg said while he approved of the decision in principle, the government's move was a "fire sale" to cover up black holes in its next budget
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