Water Week

EWN Publishing

Queensland offers Darling-tributary, Condamine River irrigators 163 megalitres allocation from Sandy Creek, to Cecil Plains, when river is a dust-pile

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

According to Brad Pfeffer, in a report to Queensland Country Life, 27/9/2007, p. 9, “last week, the Department of Natural Resources and Water (NRW) posted letters to irrigators on the Condamine River in southern Queensland, calling for interest in 163 megalitres of medium-priority allocation. This was on a river where irrigators across this stretch of the river had no allocations from Leslie Dam for six years. The last dribbles of water sold at $2000/ML; and if allocations sold at that value the income at 163 x $2000/ML, would go to government.

Irrigator lobby group AgForce water spokesman Kim Bremner, who also farms downstream near Dalby, learned of the sale through Queensland Country Life, and said it “smacks of the government making money”. He said for the Government to cancel the Warrego auction, and to proceed with the sale on the Condamine, would be inconsistent.

Not advertised:
While the department has kept a low profile in announcing the tender an posted no advertisements, Queensland Country Life has obtained a letter sent by the department to prospective buyers. The water licence was originally allocated to beleaguered piggery company, Danpork, which intended to build a 10,000-sow piggery in the Warwick Shire. The piggery was never built, and the water forfeited to the State Government due to financial difficulties with the company.

Tenders close October 29: The water has subsequently returned to government hands, and is currently unallocated and awaiting sale. Tenders for the water were due to close on October 29, according to the letter.

Red faces change policy: However, as media attention focused on the issue this week, Natural Resources and Water Minister Craig Wallace opted to put the auction on hold, pending the release of the CSIRO report into the Condamine-Balonne.

The power of the media: While the CSIRO report has been due for several months, the backflip came within the space of a week for irrigators, and within a day of the NRW Department learning that Queensland Country Life was following the story. The water was originally allocated to a zone from Sandy Creek confluence to the Talgai weir, but would be offered as far down as Cecil Plains.

Fishing holes are dehydrating to dust:Upstream, in the area where the water was originally intended, Cunningham District Irrigators Association president, Gary Cooper, described the prospect of the tender as “rude”. “They have no real hope of delivering it in the foreseeable future?” he said.

Ludicrous, says locals: Irrigators across this stretch of the river have been without allocations from Leslie Dam for six years. Even the weirs and once-popular fishing holes are dehydrating to dust. “It shows how hungry they (the Queensland Government) can be if they want to sell it when they haven’t got it,” Mr Cooper said. He said previous sales in the region had brought $2000/ML— which would tip the value at significantly over $300,000 for the allocation.

Queensland Country Life, 27/9/2007, p. 9

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