MSF Sugar chief executive officer Mike Barry with Maryborough and District Canegrowers chairman Jeff Atkinson discussing water security.
MSF Sugar chief executive officer Mike Barry with Maryborough and District Canegrowers chairman Jeff Atkinson discussing water security. Carlie Walker

Time to solve region’s water woes: sugar CEO

AS THE Queensland Cabinet rolled into town this week, celebrating the promise of new jobs at Downer's rail factory and two extra years of harvesting for the region's hardwood industry, Maryborough's cane community had one question.

What about us?
MSF Sugar chief executive Mike Barry said the sugar factory was marking 125 years in the region, with 490 jobs supporting by the milling activity alone.

In addition, 90 local farming families were also part of the industry.

He said while the announcements and the commitment to the rail factory were positives for the Maryborough region, he would have liked to hear an announcement for the sugar industry.

"More than anything I would have loved to hear about investments in war and storage," Mr Barry said.

"To grow, the area really needed water and that will lead to a lot more jobs."

Earlier this year, Federal member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien pledged $18 million to fund the construction of an off-stream water storage project at Glendorf near Maryborough.

At the time, Mr O'Brien said the 6000 mega litre off-stream water storage project is absolutely essential to the survival of Maryborough's sugar industry.

While that was a good start, Mr Barry was hopeful the State Government would also come on board down the track and help secure the region's water future.

Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said during his conversation with MSF Sugar, he had been led to believe they were working with the Federal Government regarding water storage.

But that didn't mean that he wasn't thinking about the issue.

Ms Saunders said he had brought up with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during her visit.

"Water storage is something I really want," Mr Saunders said.

But given the indication that the region's water woes were being addressed by the Federal Government, Mr Saunders said money that might have been spent on storage had been used on other projects in Maryborough.

He said funds were being spent to shore up jobs and diversify the economy.