Liberal National Party Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last called on the Labor Government to rule out increases to the cost of rural irrigation water in Queensland.
Mr Last said farmers and rural communities were in the dark about potential increases in costs from next year following moves by the Labor Government to change the prices SunWater and Seqwater charged to supply rural irrigation water.
“Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and our food and fibre exports are now worth $10 billion a year,” Mr Last said.
“But the double whammy of skyrocketing electricity prices and water pumping costs is killing productivity on Queensland farms.
“A new price path for regional water was flagged in November last year but the Labor Government has failed to tell farmers and rural communities how much they will be paying for irrigation water in the future.”
Mr Last said the rural irrigation water price paths were based on recommendations from the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), but the Labor Government still had not referred the issue of water irrigation to the QCA yet.
“For the Labor Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham to be unable to tell Queensland irrigators what they are going to be charged for water from July 1 next year is shameful,” he said.
“For Minister Lynham to not have even referred the issue to the Queensland Competition Authority yet is inexcusable.
“Farmers have no faith in the Queensland Competition Authority or the Labor Government after the failure to bring relief from crippling electricity prices for irrigators.
“The recent increases to bulk water prices in southeast Queensland were also three to five times higher than inflation, so this Labor Government has form in gouging Queenslanders through utility prices.
“The demand for food from China, India and other Asian economies is only going to increase and our farmers need affordable water and electricity to seize the opportunities.”
Mr Last said if elected, an LNP Government would develop of a 30-year water security plan for Queensland in consultation with industry, Seqwater, Sunwater and local governments to deliver affordable water, as well establishing a mechanism for reviewing the current price targets.