Irrigators slapped with price increase on non-existent water
WATER users in the Lockyer Valley are set to continue paying for irrigation water – regardless if they even get a single drop.
Moreover, the price they pay for this non-existent water is set to increase.
The Queensland Competition Authority handed down it’s report on the price path for both the central and lower Lockyer Water Supply Schemes last week.
Under the recommended prices, the growers in the lower Lockyer will see their Part A fixed prices increase by $3.44 a megalitre, to $50.97/ML, from July 1 this year.
This fixed price will continue to rise to $62.11 in 2023.
The Part A price caused the most anger during the QCA’s consultation with irrigators in October last year.
This price is paid by irrigator regardless of whether they receive water or not and is designed to pay for the water infrastructure used to deliver irrigation water to the growers.
Central Lockyer growers will also see increases in their Part A tariffs, and both irrigation schemes have also been hit with price increases for their volumetric prices, which they pay based on how much water they receive.
The report appears virtually unchanged from the draft presented to growers last year.
At a fiery consultation meeting at Atkinsons Dam in October, growers voiced their concern over the proposed price increase and warned the changes could have “devastating” impacts on farmers.
Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald attended the meeting last year, and was disappointed to see the QCA hadn’t taken on-board submission from his office or irrigators.
“They’ve basically just ignored the submissions by the water users and the farmers … it’s really disappointing that they’ve ignored the submissions,” Mr McDonald said.
Irrigators and Mr McDonald had called for a change to the system to stop growers paying for no water.
“What our submissions all centred around was having a mechanism in place so that if water wasn’t available, that farmers are not having to pay large costs,” he said.
“If they haven’t got water and they cannot grow a crop – they can’t afford to pay anything.”
He labelled the three schemes the “worst performing assets in the state”.
The QCA acknowledged the concerns raised by irrigators, but said in a fact sheet “We do not consider that supply reliability concerns are best addressed through adjusting the tariff structure. Any relief from Part A charges during a drought is also a matter more appropriately determined by the government”.
Mr McDonald acknowledged this and said the QCA had been “hamstrung right from the start” by the way the government had asked them to review the pricing changes.
The report now goes to government for consideration and it will make the final decision.
But Mr McDonald is calling on the Minister for Natural Resources Dr Anthony Lynham to stop the changes.
“We’re calling on the minister to intervene, which he can do. He is able to intervene and stop prices as happened in 2004 and 2005,” he said.
The minister was contacted for comment.