Nationals say dams crucial

By Country News

Federal Nationals leader Michael McCormack says dams and weirs could hold the key to shoring up crucial domestic water for regional Australia in the future.

Some NSW and Queensland towns are running out of water, with the situation critical across drought-ravaged parts of the nation.

Councils and state governments are rushing to put emergency measures in place, as their federal counterparts look at large-scale projects to ward off the devastating effects of the next big dry.

The deputy prime minister, who is in charge of infrastructure, insists projects such as the Rookwood Weir and Emu Swamp Dam in Queensland are not solely about farmers.

‘‘They’re all projects which are not just there for irrigation, they’re also there for water supply,’’ Mr McCormack said last week.

He also nominated raising NSW’s Wyangala Dam as a priority.

Mr McCormack promised a new $100million national water grid during the recent federal election campaign.

While the full details of the new body are yet to be announced, Mr McCormack said it would provide a way of circumventing uncooperative state governments and take ‘‘petty politics’’ out of water infrastructure.

‘‘Wherever I go, when I mention dams whether it’s a metropolitan area they cheer, whether it’s a regional area they do the same,’’ he said.

‘‘Where we can’t reach common ground, the national water grid will certainly make sure we build those dams.’’

The grid has been framed as a statutory authority with government scientists guiding large-scale water diversion projects.

Mr McCormack was in Dubbo on Thursday for The Daily Telegraph’s bush summit, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie also attended.