Queensland farmers are staring down the barrel of crushing water price increases under the Palaszczuk Labor Government's pivot to 'cost-reflective' pricing.
The review currently underway by the Queensland Competition Authority highlighted several irrigation schemes facing significant and unstainable price increases.
LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said a submission from peak industry group Queensland Farmers' Federation warned of potentially crippling price increases.
"The QFF looked at Seqwater’s own 'cost-reflective' numbers and found significant price increases for farmers already burdened by extreme water and electricity prices*," Mr Last said.
"The projected price increases for some irrigation schemes are unacceptable and would be a hammer blow for farmers and communities.
“Based on the QFF estimates, farmers in the Cedar Pocket and Pie Creek irrigation schemes will be hit hard.
“Cedar Pocket will need to experience a $340/ML water price increase to reach ‘cost-reflectivity’ and the Pie Creek distribution scheme is facing significant fixed cost increases as well.”
LNP MP for Gympie and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said the proposed 'cost-reflective' pricing in these schemes had the potential to wipe out irrigation in the region.
“We all know water is the lifeblood of our agriculture industries,” Mr Perrett said.
“Schemes such as Cedar Pocket could see more than a century of steady annual price increases until it meets Seqwater's cost-reflective pricing, even though price increases are capped at $2.38/ML per year plus inflation.
“More than 100 years of price increases is clearly unacceptable. Responsibility for this issue rests with the State Labor Government and it needs to step up and solve it.
“Without water, these rural and regional communities will lose production, which will lead to fewer jobs and more expensive food and fibre for all Queenslanders.
"It's time for Labor to step in and guarantee the future of irrigated agriculture in Wide Bay."
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett today labelled the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s new ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ fines for animal extremists as ineffective and out of touch.
A report in the Courier Mail today* revealed Labor’s ‘heavy on-the-spot fines’ for animal activists who terrorise farmers would only be $500 to $600.
“These ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ fines fail the pub test and do nothing to respond to the community outrage against these extremists terrorising our hard-working family farmers,” Mr Perrett said.
“These proposed fines are laughable and will do nothing to deter these militant minorities.
“To make things worse, Labor’s Mark Furner has failed to give details or a definitive timeline on when reforms will come into force.
“While the Minister is making it up as he goes along, animal extremists are terrorising law-abiding family businesses who put food on our table and create local jobs in our regions.
“These extremists have shown time and time again they are more than happy to pay these pathetic fines as there’s no threat of any real punishment.”
Mr Perrett said harsher penalties were urgently needed to put an end to the disgraceful terrorisation of Queensland farmers.
“If these animal extremists want to do the crime, they should be ready to do the time,” Mr Perrett said.
“It’s time to make an example of these outlaws and show Queensland is serious about protecting our farmers and maintaining strict biosecurity controls.
“In New South Wales and Victoria, we saw dozens of arrests in response to recent actions, but in Queensland all we’ve seen is three sacrificial lambs handed over to extremists**.
“It’s time to throw these un-Australian extremists behind bars.
“Only the LNP will do what it takes to protect our farmers and the entire food supply-chain in Queensland.”
* Courier Mail article (10 April 2019) p2 ‘Heavy fines rushed in to combat animal activists’ by Domanii Cameron (attached)
** Queensland Country Life online article ‘Carey Brothers abattoir targeted by 120 animal rights protesters’ by Helen Walker: https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6006042/protesters-target-carey-brothers-abattoir/
“I am deeply saddened by the news that Scott Sargood died in a gyrocopter accident in Western Queensland yesterday morning, aged 54.
“Scott will be remembered as a humble and hard-working family man, who was incredibly passionate about the bush.
“I admired Scott’s leadership when he fought against changes to Queensland’s vegetation management laws.
“He proudly handed me the petition on behalf of famers and members of the Green Shirts Movement Queensland.
“Agriculture was in his blood and his loss is a major loss for regional Queensland.
“Scott was a popular and decent man.
“Many people are hurting – and I am one of them.
“This is a tragedy that will take a long time to overcome, but I get comfort knowing he leaves behind a remarkable legacy.
“My thoughts are with his wife Adma and children Mitch and Bonnie, as the they try to comprehend this heartbreaking accident.
“Vale Scott Sargood, you will be greatly missed.”
Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington says enough is enough and it is time for Kilcoy SHS to get a proper School Hall.
Mrs Frecklington says she has written to the Minister for Education to formally request funding to fully enclose and complete the Kilcoy SHS Hall.
“We need the Minister for Education to recognise that Kilcoy State High School can’t wait any longer and deserves a proper funding commitment for a new School Hall,” she said.
“I have been working with Principal, Chris Dench regarding the need for this project for some time,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“While the School has the covered outdoor learning area, it isn’t suitable for important ceremonies and events and there are no other halls in the Kilcoy region with the necessary seating capacity.
“The Kilcoy SHS P&C have also written to me about this issue and I determined to see this project come to fruition.
“We also know that there is a predicted growth in student numbers at Kilcoy SHS over the next five years and it seems unacceptable that a high school of this size doesn’t have an enclosed, school hall with seating and modern facilities.
“I am calling on the Minister for Education and this city-centric Labor Government to acknowledge our great regional schools, like Kilcoy State High School, and make the School Hall project a reality,” Deb said.
Photo: Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington, with Kilcoy SHS Principal, Chris Dench outside the schools covered outdoor learning area.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that animal extremists could be fined up to $420,000 for trespassing on private farming properties – but says more needs to be done by the Palaszczuk Government at a state level.
“I welcome Minister Littleproud’s announcement which will crackdown on animal extremists who illegally use personal information to attack our hard-working farmers,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The state LNP Opposition stands strong with producers and call on the state Labor Government to act before more homes and businesses are endangered.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to listen to the calls from producer groups for stronger powers for police to protect our farmers from militant activists.
“It is simply unacceptable that fringe groups have been exploiting personal information to terrorise Queensland families and their livestock.
“The activities of extremists endanger both humans and animals.”
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett also backed AgForce’s call for firm action from the Palaszczuk Labor Government to act.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to beef up trespass laws and give stronger powers to the police so they can actually penalise these offenders,” Mr Perrett said.
“This has all gone too far. The Palaszczuk Labor Government has to draw a line in the sand and put an end to this disgraceful extremism.”
Queensland farmers are staring down the barrel of substantial water price increases under the Palaszczuk Labor Government's move towards 'cost-reflective' pricing for water.
The review currently underway by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) has highlighted several irrigation schemes that are facing significant and unstainable price increases.
LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last has pointed directly to the submission from peak industry representative group Queensland Farmers' Federation (QFF).
"The QFF used state owned Sunwater's own 'cost-reflective' numbers to identify significant price increases for farmers already struggling under the burden of high water and electricity prices*," Mr Last said.
"The projected price increases we are seeing for some irrigation schemes are unacceptable and should be of major concern to farmers and the communities that rely on them.
"If the Labor Government wants to move to 'cost-reflective' pricing for water then it has a lot more work to do to ensure SunWater is providing value for money to its rural customers.
"There are serious questions that need answering around SunWater's ability to deliver value for money for farmers."
Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington, said the projected increase in the Barker-Barambah scheme is completely unacceptable and out of touch with the real world.
“There is a proposed increase in water prices from $30/ML to $74/ML and this is simply unaffordable for our Barker-Barambah irrigators. If these increases go ahead, many irrigators will have to cease production,” Mrs Frecklington said.
Mr Last said it was clear Queensland farmers are currently getting a bad deal with SunWater.
"SunWater's own 'cost-reflective' pricing will effectively kill numerous irrigation schemes in regional Queensland," Mr Last said.
"Where there is water there is wealth and opportunity. Without water these rural and regional communities will lose production resulting in less jobs and more expensive food and fibre for all Queenslanders.
"These price increases have real world impacts on our rural and regional communities.
"It's time for Labor to step in and guarantee the future of irrigated agriculture in Queensland."
QFF was able to identify the following SunWater cost blowouts:
The LNP is demanding the Palaszczuk Labor Government take action to protect law-abiding farmers as animal activists plan chaos on a ‘day of action’ this Monday.
Liberal National Party Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett said Labor had to stop turning a blind eye to illegal property invasions and the intimidation of farmers and their employees.
“It is an absolute disgrace that 120 animal extremists were able to invade a Darling Downs feedlot last week without any repercussions from the state at all,” said Mr. Perrett.
“The Premier had an opportunity in Question Time today to show some leadership on the issue, but like so many times before, she failed to stand-up for Queensland farmers saying she’ll only ‘take a look at it.’.
“The time for talk is over.
“Agriculture Minister Mark Furner is giving these extremists the green light to trespass on farms and abuse farmers.
“Biosecurity Queensland has not issued a single infringement notice in the last four years. *
“Under Queensland law, everyone must comply with our state’s biosecurity protocols.
“It defies belief that no one has faced action for breaching biosecurity laws or for trespass.
“It’s time for Agriculture Minister Mark Furner to do his job – uphold the law and protect farms.
“It is unacceptable that Labor is allowing family businesses, which put food on our tables and provide jobs, to be damaged and threatened by lawless extremists.”
Liberal National Party Shadow Police Trevor Watts called on Police Minister Mark Ryan to raise his game and protect Queensland farmers from extremists.
“The response from Police Minister Mark Ryan has been pathetic,” said Mr. Watts.
“It is clear that the lawless actions of these extreme groups at the Darling Downs feedlot needs to be investigated as a matter of priority.
“It’s time for Queensland to get a specialised police taskforce to protect farmers, their families and their employees.
“Queensland farmers, like everyone else, deserve the right be protected under the law.”