Katter’s Mackay Sugar plan

BOB Katter wants Mackay Sugar to lead a major project opening up tens of thousands of hectares of land for cane production for ethanol.

The plan hinges on another huge dam being built on the upper Burdekin River.

Speaking in Mackay yesterday about an idea that has been simmering for years, The Katter Australia Party leader said it would make Mackay Sugar the biggest cane producer in Queensland.

Although it would require major investment from other interests, likely overseas, he said he wanted Mackay Sugar to have a major stake in the project.

Mackay Sugar CEO Quinton Hildebrand confirmed the company had taken part in a feasibility study.

"Should the economic business case stack up we would be interested. (The study) shows promise," he said.

"While Mackay Sugar does not have the capital to undertake the project, we do have the expertise."

"The policy environment must be right."

Although not a new idea, Mr Katter visualises it as a winner for Mackay cane farmers. He believes the time is right for the dam to be built on Australia's third biggest river and the water moved 300km south-west, creating employment and generating income to benefit the central and northern regions.

"It would involve around 120,000ha of land," he said.

"We had discussions with Mackay Sugar with a view that this giant sugar cane development project would work. It (Mackay Sugar) is the last bastion of farmer ownership and I would like them to be the preferred developer."

"A report has been completed by an engineering firm. It updates the costings and its opinion, and mine, it that it is a very attractive proposition commercially," he said.

The project ... if I got my way, would be half-owned by Mackay Sugar interests.



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