Coun­cil slams lat­est wa­ter re­cov­ery bid

Balonne Beacon - - NEWS - Laura Telford laura.telford@balon­nebea­con.com.au

BALONNE Shire Coun­cil has said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s “strate­gic ac­qui­si­tion” of another 28GLs in the Lower Balonne re­gion would have dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects on St Ge­orge and Dir­ran­bandi.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties are still reel­ing from the pre­vi­ous wa­ter buy­backs, so to hear there has been another sub­stan­tial buy­back we feel our com­mu­ni­ties have been blind­sided,” the coun­cil said.

“Our un­der­stand­ing was that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment would seek to re­cover wa­ter through other means due to the dev­as­tat­ing so­cial and eco­nomic im­pacts of buy­backs felt by our com­mu­ni­ties.

“We call on our po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives to sup­port the 320GL limit as rec­om­mended by the Murray Dar­ling Basin Author­ity to pro­vide some cer­tainty for our res­i­dents.”

Coun­cil­lors have called for eq­ui­table fed­eral funds for the shire con­sid­er­ing the amount of money spent by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment on the lat­est buy­back.

“This money would boost em­ploy­ment and in­vest­ment in in­dus­try in our re­gion which will com­bat the ef­fects of wa­ter buy­backs,” it said.

“We want to as­sure our res­i­dents and busi­nesses that we are con­tin­u­ing to fight for their best in­ter­ests.”

Un­der the new plan, the Com­mon­wealth be­lieves it has made a sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards achiev­ing the re­main­ing wa­ter re­cov­ery re­quired un­der the Murray-Dar­ling Basin Plan in the Con­damine-Balonne.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources, Barn­aby Joyce, said the strate­gic ac­qui­si­tion rep­re­sented 70% of the re­main­ing lo­cal wa­ter re­cov­ery task for the Con­damine-Balonne un­der the pro­posed tar­get set by the Murray-Dar­ling Basin Author­ity.

“This ac­qui­si­tion was a unique op­por­tu­nity to se­cure a sig­nif­i­cant vol­ume of wa­ter in a catch­ment but I know there are com­mu­ni­ties where the prospect of any fur­ther wa­ter re­cov­ery will be met with con­cern,” Mr Joyce said.

“We un­der­stand that every job is im­por­tant for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

“How­ever, the im­pacts of this wa­ter re­cov­ery have been in­de­pen­dently as­sessed to con­firm that this pur­chase of over­land flow li­cences should have a rel­a­tively low im­pact on re­gional pro­duc­tion and ca­sual em­ploy­ment.”

Mr Joyce, who be­fore be­com­ing the fed­eral mem­ber for New Eng­land in New South Wales, was a fed­eral Se­na­tor for Queensland based in St Ge­orge, said he had a per­sonal con­nec­tion to the is­sues fac­ing the Balonne Shire.

“St Ge­orge will also gain im­por­tant flood mit­i­ga­tion ben­e­fits from the de­com­mis­sion­ing and mod­i­fi­ca­tion of struc­tures on the prop­erty,” Mr Joyce said.

Mem­ber for Mara­noa, David Lit­tleproud was quick to of­fer sup­port for the pur­chase as well.

“While this is not the most ideal out­come, it goes to­wards pro­tect­ing the small fam­ily farms and those small busi­nesses which sup­port those smaller ir­ri­ga­tors in the Lower Balonne from fur­ther buy­back im­pacts,” Mr Lit­tleproud said.

PHOTO: LAURA TELFORD

ECO­NOMIC PAIN: The coun­cil has crit­i­cised the lat­est wa­ter buy­back.

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