Assistance to irrigators yet to flow

22nd January 2007Struggling irrigation farmers with no water allocation are still waiting for the State Government to come good on a commitment of financial assistance.“Specialist irrigators in Central Queensland are really doing it tough,” Fitzroy Basin Food and Fibre Association executive officer Wal McDowall said today.“Even though there is a zero water allocation this season, irrigators still have to face quarterly bills for thousands of dollars in Part A or overhead charges from Sunwater.”Relief with charges where water allocations have been substantially reduced was raised by Deputy Premier Anna Bligh as being among the key outcomes of the national water summit on Melbourne Cup day.Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin announced on December 6 that the Queensland Government had agreed to this initiative as part of a package of drought assistance measures.“They have good intentions, but it seems to be stuck in the bureaucracy. We are still waiting for them to deliver,” Mr McDowall said.Incomes this season would be slashed with the major cotton crop planting reduced to about 30 percent.“Farmers are gambling with dryland summer crops after rain at Christmas, but most farmers 100 percent committed to irrigation do not have enough land area even if they got a good crop result.”Mr McDowall said that by the time the initiative to help with fixed water charges was approved by the Queensland Government, it was highly conditional.A rebate cap of $10,000 would mean the average Emerald family irrigation farm would only get back about half their fixed costs.“Most irrigators in the Fitzroy Basin would pay between $20,000 and $50,000 to Sunwater every year in Part A charges. Because their costs are higher, they are being discriminated against.” “The least the Government can do is immediately honour its commitment to help irrigators who are paying charges and not receiving any water,” Mr McDowall said.For further information, contact Wal McDowall on 0417 787 076.