The Palaszczuk Government’s requirement for drought-stricken landholders to fully finance the upfront costs of GABSI projects will doom the Queensland part of the program to failure, according to the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.
“This is the fourth stage of the Great Artesian Sustainability Initiative so it is a mature program. This means lots has been learned about how best to deliver the program in order to achieve the desired outcomes.
“So I am at a loss to explain why, at this stage of the game, Minister Lynham has changed the delivery to require landholders to fully finance their projects up-front with no certainty of reimbursement,” said Mr Millar.
“These are landholders who have been without an income for up to three years because of drought and are likely to be facing another year of the same.
Properly delivered, GABSI will provide landholders with constructive work they can undertake at a time when so much they are forced to do is essentially destructive, whether it be destocking, selling off breeding bloodlines or dealing with drought affected local wildlife.”
Mr Millar said in the previous 14 years of the program, landholders completed the delivery of their individual project in stages and therefore received reimbursement in stages.
Instead, the Palaszczuk Government requires Queensland landholders to fully fund the quoting, design, construction and completion of their GABSI project before having it inspected to ensure it meets all the criteria. Only then will they receive payment of the Government’s share of the investment.
“Potentially, the landholder could build a project only to be told it doesn’t meet eligibility criteria. For many that would mean disaster,” said Mr Millar.
“I wrote to Dr Lynham last week telling him that the feedback I was receiving from constituents raised serious doubts about the program’s success, despite the fact that it is long awaited by landholders, environmentalists and anyone who loves the west.”
Mr Millar said that Dr Lynham had not responded to his written representation in which he had also expressed concern about the short window in which applications would be accepted.
“I am pleading with Minister Lynham to get fair dinkum about his part in GABSI. Work with the landholders in a reasonable way and we can all share in the benefits of a proven success story. There would be very few joint government initiatives which have the lengthy and proven success of this one,” he said.
FAST FACTS - GABSI
- The Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative aims to protect the Great Artesian Basin’s underground aquifers by capping free-flowing bores and replacing open, earthen drains with piping to limit losses through evaporation.
- The program commenced in 1999.
- The Federal and State Governments each fund 40 per cent of a project’s cost. The landholder funds 20 percent.
- On June 9, 2015, the Australian Government announced $15 million to be spread across four states and territories. The Queensland Government then announced that it would provide $4 million of funding, making Queensland eligible for a total of $8 million of funding.