State Election 2020 Scorecard: Water
The LNP have a strong agricultural water agenda including committing to a 20pc reduction in SunWater irrigation water prices, reducing regional electricity prices and introducing a new set of affordable agricultural electricity tariffs. They support fixing Paradise dam supply capacity through exploring upstream options in the Burnett and have also announced they will commit $45 million to build the new Cooranga and Barlil weirs to grow employment in the Wide Bay – Burnett. Further, they would undertake a state-wide water asset audit, complete a 30-year water security plan and a New Bradfield Scheme Water Resource Assessment. They have also promised to invest $30 million into planning work to raise the Burdekin Falls Dam and advance Nullinga and Urannah dams. The LNP will also establish the Queensland Dam Company to progress infrastructure projects. They have not announced support for funding GAB sustainability work.
KAP have a policy to indefinitely freeze transitional tariffs used in irrigation to maintain agricultural competitiveness and for price reductions. They would also implement a Special Economic Zone scheme and a Rural Development bank to create incentives for new projects and special regulatory and commercial arrangements for agricultural water allocations. This extends to free 3000 ML licenses for landholders within a new NWQ Irrigation Development Scheme. They support state and federal government capital commitments to enable a higher Hells Gate Dam for water supply security and ag activity. They have also committed to $3.5 million for a feasibility study into the Coalstoun Lakes dam project in the North Burnett and support the North Johnson transfer to Tinaroo dam to supply Mareeba, Dimbulah and the Tablelands.
One Nation will establish a federal authority to investigate a hybrid Bradfield scheme for irrigation and the of water into the Murray Darling Basin. They support a rethink of Queensland Competition Authority water price increases towards ensuring affordable irrigation water supplies. They also don’t support any reduction in water supply from existing water storages, such as Paradise dam, and support new dams as helping make communities more economically viable, where environmental flows can be ensured. They have also committed to introducing a publicly available water register and have a wider policy on restricting water ownership to Australians and governments, with foreign holdings to be sold off. This is not in line with AgForce policy.
Queensland Labor have provided annual water licence fee relief for droughted producers and announced $50 million for a 15pc reduction in water charges from mid-2021 for all irrigators in state-owned schemes, and up to a 50 pc reduction for fruit and vegetable growers, which will help lift regional economies. They will work with local government to ensure the availability of permanent water to all regional, rural and remote regions and explore ways to protect regional areas from water shortages, already experienced this drought. Labor have committed to actively assess further investments and have announced an expert panel review of the Bradfield scheme but also have a policy that new instream dams are only supported where the need cannot be met by alternative options. Labor has a policy of re-introduce flawed legislation to protect ‘pristine’ river systems in the Channel Country, Cape York, the Gulf and other parts of Queensland.
The Greens have committed to cutting electricity bills by 46% and have policies supporting established rural water efficiency programs, development of suitable land for agriculture and accelerating capping and piping in the GAB. These positive policies are unfortunately offset by negative policies such as restoring the original Wild Rivers Act 2005, introducing further state-wide water quality regulations and a new independent statutory Surface and Underground Water Commission, opposing damming of river systems and prohibiting the construction of new major public or private dams and large scale flood harvesting schemes.