Water tariff reduction needed to help cane farmers

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto is backing calls for a 25 per cent reduction in water tariffs to boost Queensland’s economy and help farmers.

A 25 per cent reduction in State Government water tariffs for farmers could boost Queensland’s economy by as much as $220 million over the next four years, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

Mr Dametto said while Labor was preoccupied with Queensland hosting the AFL Grand Final, the benefits of such an event were “short-sighted” when compared to shoring up the state’s long-term agricultural future.

“It’s estimated Queensland hosting the AFL Grand Final will generate 80 jobs and a $17 million boost to our economy. But figures from an Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) report suggest a 25 per cent reduction in State Government irrigated water tariffs could add up to $220 million to Queensland’s economy and support thousands of jobs in the regions over the next four years – the equivalent of 11 AFL grand finals.

“The government has done it’s best to rip the guts out of agriculture in this State through its farm-destroying vegetation management legislation and new reef regulations. The layering up of legislation and regulation has stripped farmers of their full yield potential, the least they could do is provide financial relief through water tariff reduction.”

Following a Question Without Notice from Mr Dametto in parliament yesterday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk committed to meeting with Katter’s Australian Party MPs to discuss the KAP’s plan for reducing water prices.

“When it comes to the agriculture industry, everything that’s happened in this term of parliament from the State Government has been about layering up more legislation to hurt the sugar industry that I represent in the Hinchinbrook electorate. We’ve seen the Reef regs as well which both Labor and the LNP seem to be backing right now,” he said.

“What we’re asking for is a significant reduction in water tariffs at a time when they have taken so much from regional Queensland.”

KAP leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter challenged the Premier to demonstrate she was serious about post-COVID economic recovery.

“Does the Premier want to provide real economic recovery solutions to Queensland, as has been demonstrated by this study from ASMC, or does she just want to keep waving a shiny bauball in the major centres?,” he said.

“The grand final just further demonstrates that the Premier and her government are quite willing to turn their back on Queensland by spending taxpayers money to buy their way to another election.”

Mr Katter said agriculture and mining would continue to prop Queensland’s economy up but it could not afford to continue being constrained by high water prices.

“I can assure you the government won’t be following our advice on this, it’ll be something that the KAP will have to drag them to the table on, kicking and screaming. There’s no question that LNP and Labor will be chasing votes in the south-east corner to win this election and that will come at the expense of the greater Queensland economy.”

Nick Dametto MP