The report is wrong and the dam should absolutely go ahead, according to former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, who criticized an independent report critical of a $1.3 billion dam proposal in his electorate.
Infrastructure Australia found there was insufficient evidence for the proposed $1.3 billion Dungowan Dam near Tamworth, and criticised the business case as poorly substantiated. Its analysis suggested that it could reap as little as nine cents of profit for every dollar spent on the dam.
As the Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister, Mr Joyce signed up to spend $675 million of federal money on the dam in a 50-50 funding split with the state government.
He has slammed the findings of the independent review.
They come up with this fantastic figure, $1.3 billion, but no one has been able to put on the table exactly how they came up with that number, he said.
Infrastructure Australia suggested there were more cost-effective options to improve water security for the city of Tamworth, including getting back water licences from irrigators, and increasing the amount of water reserved for city use in the 100 gigalitre Chaffey Dam.
The mayor of Tamworth, Russell Webb, said those options would destroy the region's economy.
He said that we actually decimate the irrigator industry in the Peel Valley.
Cr Webb said that the indirect impact on businesses in Tamworth would be significant and more work needed to be done to reveal the price tag of not building the dam.
A report last month suggested that the body would need to upgrade the existing Dungowan Dam and pipeline, which would cost up to $200 million.
Councillor Webb said that the growth would take a hit, affect businesses, and throws the sustainability of its agriculture into question.
He said Infrastructure Australia's recommendation to leave it off the priority list was not encouraging.