Irrigators oppose Queensland Government’s plans for water prices

Posted by Josette Dunn on 4th October 2010

The Queensland Farmers’ Federation has concluded a tour of Queensland’s irrigation areas and found that farmers are overwhelming opposed to the State Government’s proposal to increase irrigation water costs.The State Government has commissioned a review into rural irrigation pricing in Queensland.

QFF CEO Dan Galligan said when the review began the government said it wanted “frank and open discussion” throughout the process.

“The frank and open feedback is that the government has framed this review in such a way that will put upward pressure on irrigation prices that may make many farms unviable,” Mr Galligan said.

Mr Galligan said the Government had instructed the review to investigate adding to irrigation charges a percentage return on the value of SunWater’s large irrigation dams other headworks.

“Irrigators currently pay a fair price for water and cover scheme operating costs including maintaining scheme assets – but these changes would take water prices to a whole new level,” he said.

“A rate of return on the multi-million dollar assets of SunWater would increase water prices to a magnitude that would place extreme financial pressure on the profitability of many of Queensland’s irrigation enterprises.

“The Queensland irrigation sector would not be competitive with southern states such as NSW, which has not sought to recover a rate of return on dam assets.”

There are 22 SunWater irrigation areas in Queensland with about 5000 customers, many of whom are irrigators producing commodities such as sugar, cotton, milk, and fruit and vegetables.

“This review is being done independently, but the important point is that the government has set the terms of reference. The government can also choose how it will respond to the review findings.

“We are calling on the Premier Bligh and her government to recognise the value of the irrigation sector to the economy, and not burden us with unfair charges in the future.”