The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has welcomed the Final Report of the Queensland Government’s Independent Audit of Non-Urban Water Measurement and Compliance.
The report was tabled at the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council on Water Reform, which met in Canberra last Friday to discuss progress and the next steps to support full implementation of the Basin Plan, including measures to address concerns triggered by alleged illegal taking of water and non-compliance on the Barwon Darling river system in NSW.
QFF President Stuart Armitage said the audit has made recommendations for reform in a number of areas to ensure that Queensland had an adequate system in place to manage irrigation water not just in the Queensland catchments of the Murray-Darling Basin but across all irrigation areas in the state.
“The audit has focussed on the need for significant improvement of compliance and information management systems in the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy,” Mr Armitage said.
“Implementation of a metering standard for both supplemented and unsupplemented water users backed by adequate checks for installation and accuracy of meters was also recommended.”
“QFF recognises the importance of good metering and responsive irrigation water use information systems to help government manage compliance and ensure irrigators are informed about their water entitlements and their use of available supply.”
“The State Government has made a commitment to implement a reform program to address the audit recommendations but at this stage, there are no details about how the significant costs of implementing the state-wide program will be met.”
“Agreement reached in Canberra last week on funding for water meters to improve compliance only deals with the Murray-Darling Basin.”
“Queensland irrigators do not have the capacity to shoulder added costs while trying to cope with rising electricity charges and new rural water pricing.”
“The Queensland Government now needs to work closely with QFF, its industry members and local irrigation communities to address how best to implement the reform package without compromising irrigation businesses and their productivity.”
Source: Queensland Farmers Federation