Who gives a dam? As election nears, funding promises start flowing

The Morrison government has set aside almost $500 million in the upcoming federal budget to build a new dam in central Queensland.

Mar 17, 2022, updated Mar 17, 2022
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce speaks to the media at Parliament House in Canberra. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce speaks to the media at Parliament House in Canberra. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

It comes as a new survey revealed nearly three-quarters of respondents want the budget to focus on services and recovery efforts from the recent Queensland and NSW floods as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government announced on Thursday it would provide $483 million for the 970 gigalitre Urannah Dam project in Queensland.

It’s estimated the dam will unlock 103 gigalitres of water and help nearby producers develop 20,000 hectares of irrigated land.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the project would help deliver more infrastructure to regional centres such as Mackay and Gladstone.

“Our government understands that building and growing our nation requires industries that produce wealth, such as the mining, agriculture and farming sectors,” he said.

“It is these industries that earn the export dollars that will help make our country as strong as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Less than a fortnight out from the budget, a new survey from Anglicare Australia shows more people want government action on disaster and pandemic recovery as opposed to tax cuts.

Just 16 per cent of those surveyed saw tax cuts as a priority in the budget, while 12 per cent thought reducing government debt should be the main focus.

Anglicare’s executive director Kasy Chambers said proposed tax cuts would make inequality worse.

“Living costs are spiralling, people are still recovering from the pandemic, and many communities are reeling after floods and storms,” she said.

“Tax cuts are not the answer to these problems, and Australians know it.”

Meanwhile, a government grant of $61.2 million will go towards an Australian Genomic Cancer Medical Centre project to help with research and the development of drugs for people with advanced cancers.

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The centre’s $185 million project, called the Precision Oncology Screening Platform Enabling Clinical Trials, will provide genomic screening through adult and paediatric oncology networks.

It’s expected the project will create 170 jobs, and will grow by 20 workers each year.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the grant will help the project carry out clinical trials for customised cancer treatments and precision medicine.

“Australia has a tremendous reputation for our medical research, and this project will help us consolidate patient data to translate those breakthroughs into genomic cancer medicines right here at home,” Mr Hunt said.

“This funding builds in the government’s unprecedented support to health and medical research, including to improve cancer outcomes for all Australians.”

It’s hoped the multi-million dollar project will help make Australia a future hub for the development of cancer drugs.

Professor David Thomas, the head of genomic cancer medicine at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, said the project would put Australia on the map for precision medicine research.

“This world-first joint venture brings together Australia’s leading cancer centres in partnership,” he said.

“(The project) will not only deliver jobs and growth in the smart economy, but will save the lives of Australian cancer patients.”

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