Funding of $5.4 billion has approved by the Australian federal government to build the Hells Gates Dam in North Queensland.

Through the 2022–23 Budget, the Government will guarantee the funding to build the dam, subject to the completion of the final stage of the business case, which is expected in June this year.

Hells Gates is anticipated to open up as much as 60,000 hectares of irrigation across three agricultural zones in the Burdekin, supported through a 2100-gigalitre dam and bolstered by three downstream irrigation weirs. It is also is expected to create more than 7000 jobs and inject up to $1.3 billion of Gross Regional Product (GRP) into North Queensland’s economy during construction alone. During operations, new and expanded agricultural opportunities are expected to support more than 3000 regional jobs and generate up to $6 billion in GRP.

“We need to build more dams in Australia. Building dams makes our economy stronger by supporting our agricultural industries to realise their true potential,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “Water is a precious resource and we need more dams to better use that resource.

“We’ve done the homework on Hells Gates Dam and it’s now time to get on and build it. We have put our money on the table, so let’s cut the green tape, get the approvals and get it done.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the Government’s investment would help North Queensland realise its full potential.

“North Queensland holds enormous agricultural opportunity and this funding for Hells Gates is part of our plan to unlock this major irrigation expansion,” the Deputy Prime Minister said. “Irrigating the regional soils of the Burdekin will help the region realise its full potential as a producer of the food Australians and the world needs, driving us closer to taking agricultural production to over $100 billion a year by 2030. This will create more jobs and generate more wealth for our nation.

“The sooner water flows in the west, the sooner we can sell more products to the world and earn the money that will help make Australia as strong as possible as quickly as possible. We have put the money to build Hells Gates in the bank and we are ready to get on with the job.”

Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the project would have a significant flow-on effect for Townsville. “We've backed this project right from the start because it is something that will create jobs and drive the economy forward,” he said.

Today's announcement builds on the suite of dams and water infrastructure projects the Coalition is already investing in and delivering across Queensland, including: $600 million towards the restoration of Paradise Dam; $505.65 towards the delivery and construction of Urannah Dam; $183.6 million towards the Rookwood Weir; $180 million towards the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme; and $30 million towards the Big Rocks Weir.