AGRICULTURAL giant SunRice is today one step closer to building a proposed $10m storage facility in the Burdekin, with NQ First promising taxpayer funding for the project, if North Queensland’s newest political party secures the balance of power at the October 31 State Election.

NQ First candidate for Burdekin, Carolyn Moriarty, said $10m in funding would be sourced from her team’s $1b Building the North capital works program, aimed at delivering major job-creating projects and jobs in North, Far North and Central Queensland in the wake of COVID-19.

Ms Moriarty said the project, supported by the Burdekin Shire Council and earmarked for land adjacent to SunRice’s existing processing plant at Brandon, would boost rice production in North Queensland by 25,000 tonnes annually and increase job numbers at the Burdekin plant.

“I’m advised that if this storage facility comes to fruition, SunRice would then have 25 full-time jobs locally in the Burdekin, generating an additional $29m into the North Queensland economy per annum and at the same time, securing the future of the North’s rice growing industry,” she said.

“To me, it makes perfect sense, especially right now as we deal with the economic fall-out to COVID19. We cannot afford to have that economic recovery starting in the South-East corner under the LNP or Labor and eventually finding its way up here. It could take years.” NQ First Leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said he was delighted to sign off on the funding commitment, knowing the importance of the agricultural sector to his adjoining electorate.

“They don’t call it ‘The Bountiful Burdekin’ for nothing. They have the water, the land and the vision. All they need is the support of government and in times of a recession, government needs to make every effort to stimulate the economy and get us firing again,” he said.

“It’s not just about the Burdekin either. We’re also talking about increased export opportunities for the Port of Townsville and also opening up more country to rice production including farmland to the north of Rollingstone in the Herbert River district. The possibilities here are huge.”

If successful in winning the balance of power, NQ First, through its $1b Building the North program, will fund several agriculture-related projects including the restoration of the Emerald Agricultural College and the Longreach Pastoral College and new ag colleges in the Burdekin and Mareeba.

NQ First is also committed to boosting food and fibre production by implementing its $1.6 Northern Bradfield Scheme, involving the construction of several dams north of the Tropic of Capricorn.