Water Week

EWN Publishing

SunWater customers face reduced allocations, but still have to pay for their agreed water allocation; Nats MP airs farmers’ grievances in Qld parliament

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Nationals MP Ray Hopper (Darling Downs) told the Queensland parliament on 8 August 2007 that farmers were going broke due to allocations which had to be paid for but did not provide enough water to deliver.

Farmers fare badly due to allocations: Hopper said: “A massive number of SunWater customers have contacted me about their reduced allocations. They still have to pay for their agreed water allocation. The department has to seriously look at this situation. We have farmers out there going broke due to the allocations”.

Crop lost, allocation payment still due: “I know of one potato farmer in Bundaberg who had a certain water allocation so planted a crop taking into account the water that would be given to him and now it has been cut back to three per cent. He is going to lose thousands of dollars in crop yet he still has to pay for the allocation. We have people from St George in the same situation. This is just one example. Throughout the past 18 months SunWater has continued to charge one family business $32,000 per quarter in water charges even though there was little water to deliver in which to generate the cash required to pay those accounts. When they informed SunWater in May of their inability to pay the latest account their remaining water supply was cut”.

“Unacceptable” conditions as farmers mired in debt: “These people were trickling water to grow lucerne and oats to provide drought fodder not only for them but also for farmers in the surrounding area. Their water was cut because they could not pay an account for water that they were not getting. It is simply unacceptable. The minister and his department must look at the situation and help these people. These people received a threat seven days after the account fell due. They had no choice but to further increase their debt, in the middle of the worst drought in history, to meet this demand. The next SunWater account is $32,000 and is due in 20 days. They have just borrowed money to pay their last account for water that they have not got and have been charged another $32,000 for water that they will not get. This is simply unacceptable”.

Only 16pc water availability; 96pc payments due: “For the past 18 months their water availability has been 16 per cent of their entitlement. They have had to pay 96 per cent of the water charges. That is a cost of $125,436”.

Reference: Ray Hopper, Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Water Member for Darling Downs, Member for Darling Downs, First Session of the Fifty-Second Queensland Parliament, Queensland, 8 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 11/8/2007


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