Labor abandons ‘drowning’ farmers

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto has accused Labor of failing Queensland’s sugar industry for not committing to a 25 per cent cut of State irrigated water tariffs.

THE failure of the State Labor Government to implement a bold proposal that would see water charges slashed for irrigators is likely to cost them the election, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

Mr Dametto said “the clock was ticking” for Labor to throw the agricultural sector a life raft as the State election fast approached. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stated last month that her government was considering Katter’s Australian Party’s proposal to cut State irrigated water tariffs by 25 per cent for farmers, which would add up to $220 million to the Queensland economy over the next four years.

“Our growers deserve to know where Labor stands on this. The government has had more than enough time to consider our proposal, which is based on projections from the Australian Sugar Milling Council,” Mr Dametto said.

“In response to a question I asked at the Economics and Governance Committee’s inquiry into the government’s COVID-19 Fiscal and Economic Review, Treasurer Cameron Dick told me that agriculture would be eligible under the government’s $3 billion stimulus funding. But to date, there has been no commitment to the sugar industry. “

Mr Dametto said a 25 per cent reduction in water charges would cost an estimated $68 million, but generate an extra $220 million and another 140 jobs on top of the 23,000 people working because of the sugar industry.

Mr Dametto said the KAP recognised the importance of the sugar industry to regional Queensland, which was in stark contrast to Labor and the LNP.

“The sugar industry is under increasing pressure from government regulations that erode farm viability and a fluctuating world sugar price. Growers are concerned a re-elected Labor Government would only follow the current plan to freeze water charges for 12 months. What irrigators are crying out for is a reduction in their input cost,” he said.

“I have met with the Premier directly on this matter and in goodwill, have given her a considerable amount of time to make a decision on this proposal. The sugar industry demands a supportive State Government and voters deserve to know who that is coming into this year’s election. The KAP has no allegiance to either major party and will always back our farmers.”

Nick Dametto MP