Queensland farmers to take control of irrigation schemes

10 Dec 2014

The Honourable Mark McArdle MP
Minister for Energy and Water Supply

Queensland farmers are to be handed control of the state’s eight channel irrigation schemes in a move that will benefit agriculture and the communities which depend on it.

Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said the Newman LNP began an investigation into transferring the management of the SunWater schemes to local farmers in 2012 and was now ready to move to the next phase.

"Empowering irrigators and local communities delivers on the Newman LNP Government’s commitment to grow agriculture as part of a four pillar economy," Mr McArdle said.

"Giving water users more opportunity to manage their supply schemes will make them both more efficient and more responsive to customer demands," he said.

Special purpose vehicle companies for each of the schemes will be set up to help prepare them for transition. They will still be owned by the State Government, but led by a board of directors made up of a majority of local irrigators.

Leith Boully, who is chairing the Local Management Arrangements project, said the reform would allow irrigators to develop their own plans for an improved future for irrigation.

"The leadership of the interim boards has strongly demonstrated the advantages that can come from managing schemes locally to deliver benefits to customers and regional communities," Ms Boully said.

Mr McArdle said working together the government and irrigators had made great progress – but there was still plenty of work to do.

"Four of the schemes – Emerald, Eton, St George and Theodore – were well advanced and were ready to transition to local management," he said. The second wave will include Bundaberg, Burdekin, Lower Mary and Mareeba-Dimbulah schemes.

A call for expressions of interest for the directors of the new boards will go out in the near future. Further information is available at www.dews.qld.gov.au/policies-initiatives/water-sector-reform/local-management-arrangements-for-sunwater-irrigation-channels.


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