Queensland farmers will see substantial year-on-year water price increases after the Palaszczuk Labor Government locked in ‘cost-reflective’ pricing for water.
In the final report released by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA)*, irrigation schemes throughout the state are facing significant and unsustainable price increases.
LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said Labor’s irrigation rip-off will result in scheme failures, job losses and further economic decline.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government ‘cost-reflective’ pricing will effectively kill-off a large number of irrigation schemes in regional Queensland,” said Mr Last.
“Last year the LNP warned the Palaszczuk Government that the final report would deliver unsustainable price increases, but at the time Minister Lynham accused the LNP of ‘scaremongering’.
“Well given the shocking price hikes delivered in the final report, Labor’s great water rip-off has been confirmed.
“We know that land without water is worthless. That is why it is so crazy to have a situation where Labor is willing to push water prices beyond the reach of farmers.
“If the water is there and farmers cannot afford it, there is something fundamentally wrong.
“Raising the price of water has real world impacts on our rural and regional communities.
“Without water, rural and regional communities will lose production resulting in less jobs and more expensive food and fibre for all Queenslanders.
“I’ve met with farmers throughout Queensland in these schemes. This isn’t just some abstract water pricing exercise being decided in Brisbane, these are real regional communities with real jobs on the line.”
The final report provides two sets of prices for the Queensland Labor Government to consider, one with dam safety costs included and being passed onto farmers and the other without.
Mr Last said it was very clear that the LNP had already called on the Palaszczuk Labor Government to reject any move to include dam safety costs being recovered through the water price farmers pay.
“It is unsustainable to expect farmers to pay for community safety costs of public assets,” said Mr Last.
“Unlike Labor, the LNP believes in the economic and social power of water.
“That is why the LNP has a plan to build Nullinga Dam, Urannah Dam, Rookwood Weir and to raise the Burdekin Falls dam.
“The LNP also has a plan to undertake a state-wide water asset audit and complete a 30-year water security plan to ensure water is available and affordable.
“It’s time for Labor to step up and guarantee the future of irrigated agriculture in Queensland by not passing on these unsustainable price increases.”
* QCA Rural irrigation price review 2020-24 – Final Report: https://www.qca.org.au/project/rural-water/irrigation-price-investigations/