Financial support for irrigators should be permanent, MP says
MEMBER for Gregory Lachlan Millar welcomed a State Government price freeze on irrigation water prices, but said relief for farmers needs to be long-term.
The Queensland Government announced last week that during the 2020-21 financial year it would cover any increase in irrigation water prices.
“It’s a welcome reprieve,” Mr Millar said, “but we need a pricing structure that continues to grow agriculture.”
Queensland irrigators pay above-average rates, he said, and the Government needed to “give them certainty” with permanently cheaper prices.
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the policy was a response to irrigators’ financial concerns and was meant to support Queensland businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our farmers are doing it tough as they deal with the fallout of long-running drought, bushfires, severe weather events, volatile markets and now, the impacts of COVID-19,” he said.
“We need to keep our farmers in business for our food and fibre and to create jobs, just like other Queensland employers.”
Mr Lynham said that based on the Queensland Competition Authority’s recommended irrigation water prices, the policy would cost $14.7 million.
“The freeze is a temporary relief measure, just as other Queensland businesses are receiving because of COVID-19,” he said.
“The government will monitor conditions over the next 12 months before it re-assesses and decides on prices to apply from 2021-22.”
He said the State Government will also subsidise dam safety upgrades until 2024.