Water pricing has potential to 'wipe out' irrigation
LOCKYER VALLEY farmers are staring down the barrel of crushing water price increases under the state government's pivot to 'cost-reflective' pricing, according to the opposition.
A review presently underway by the Queensland Competition Authority highlighted several irrigation schemes facing significant and unsustainable price increases.
LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said a submission from peak industry group Queensland Farmers' Federation warned of potentially crippling price increases.
"Based on the Queensland Farmers Federation estimates, farmers on the Lower Lockyer, Central Lockyer and Morton Vale irrigation schemes will be hit hard," he said.
Mr Last, along with colleagues Tony Perrett and Michael Hart, met with local irrigators and member for Lockyer Jim McDonald on Monday to discuss the ongoing challenge of irrigation in the region ahead of next year's state election.
Lockyer Water Users Forum member Gordon Van der Est attended the meeting, which also discussed the proposed Wivenhoe Pipeline and said water security for the Lockyer Valley was vital for farmers to grow their businesses with confidence and fill the demand for produce to export.
"It's about reliability, you're not going to get an export customer unless you give continuity," Mr Van der Est said.
Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald said the proposed 'cost-reflective' pricing had the potential to wipe out irrigation in the region.
"We all know water is the lifeblood of our agriculture industries and we must ensure that the QCA recognise that there is no water in our irrigation schemes and tell SEQ Water to stop charging for water until water is available," Mr McDonald said.
"Even though price increases are capped at $2.38/ML per year plus inflation, this will mean the Lower Lockyer and Morton Vale irrigation customers are staring down the barrel of at least 17 years of consecutive water price increases.
"It's time for Labor to step in and guarantee the future of irrigated agriculture in Queensland."