COVID fund needs northern focus

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto wants to see State investment in the proposed North Queensland Bio-Energy plant and silos for grain and mung beans.

Projects that would turbocharge Hinchinbrook’s economy should be considered by a State Government fund designed to help Queensland recover from COVID-19, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

Mr Dametto said there was a “prime opportunity” to put the State’s $500 million Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund to work on job-creating projects like the proposed North Queensland Bio-Energy plant and silos for grain and mung beans.

“This fund, which is administered by the Queensland Investment Corporation, is designed to both support businesses that are looking to build scale or grow market share and invest in strategic assets in order to get Queensland out of the economic doldrums caused by COVID-19. NQBE and the silos are two such projects that are shovel-ready,” Mr Dametto said.

“We’ve since had reports that less than half of the fund has been utilised and it’s my view that the QIC should look north to invest that funding.”

Mr Dametto said Treasurer Cameron Dick’s statement that the fund was expected to make its investments over the next three years was “not soon enough”.

“QIC needs to ramp this up now. NQBE is a project that has the potential to deliver between 400 and 450 jobs during construction and 253 new jobs once operational,” Mr Dametto said.

“On top of that, the plant could generate up to 120 megawatts of dispatchable, baseload power into the power grid – all powered by renewable sugarcane fibre. On the agricultural front, silos would enable crop diversification which is essential for the future economic viability of the region.

“I note the QIC recently released a paper touting the benefits of the hydrogen economy but ethanol and bio-plastics are another renewable energy industry that is worth serious consideration. Both of these could be produced by NQBE.”

Mr Dametto said he would write to QIC CEO Damien Frawley to outline the case for investment in NQBE and silos.

“I look forward to continuing discussions with all stakeholders to advance these important projects,” he said.

Nick Dametto MP