Council slams latest water recovery bid
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.
ECONOMIC PAIN: The council has criticised the latest water buyback.