Lower Mary irrigators could be hit hard by price hikes: LNP
THE State Government has been forced to again defend a review of irrigation prices paid by Gympie and Wide Bay producers, which the LNP says could hit farmers with a $44 per megalitre price hike.
The Office of Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham said the Queensland Competition Authority, as the State's independent economic regulator, was reviewing the water prices to be charged by SunWater and Seqwater from mid-2020 through to mid-2024.
"As is norm for the LNP, the Members for Burdekin, Burnett and Gympie are putting the cart before the horse by attempting to pre-empt the QCA's recommendations,” a spokesman for the Minister said.
"The QCA will carefully consider the costs of supply proposed by SunWater and Seqwater to ensure these costs are reasonable and efficient, taking into consideration submissions from all stakeholders, including the Queensland Farmers' Federation.
"The QCA is required to limit annual price increases similar to previous reviews and additionally, has been given the flexibility to recommend volumetric prices lower than the costs to supply the water.
"This has been done because this Government values agriculture as a hugely important part of the Queensland's economy, and we are committed to helping SunWater, Seqwater and the irrigation sector remain financially viable.
"I understand that the QCA has invited submissions from stakeholders and held regional workshops with irrigation customers and I encourage all customers to stay involved in the review process.
"Through the QCA review, we will obtain information to help the Government decide on future irrigation water prices and whether those prices should include some of the costs of dams being made safer in accordance with current standards. The more customers that participate in the review, the more informed government will be when it is time for us to consider the QCA's recommendations and decide on future prices.”
Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett urged for any price increase to be put on hold.
"Even though price increases are capped at $2.38/ML per year plus inflation, this will mean the Lower Mary irrigation customers are staring down the barrel of at least 15 years of consecutive water price increases,” he said. "Water price increases have a whole of community flow on affect, which the Wide Bay could least afford.”