Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar has expressed concern at the Palaszczuk Government’s response to a question he raised regarding the separation payment to be made to the Emerald Local Management Area Board when it assumes responsibility for the management of the Emerald Irrigation Area channels.
These are currently managed by Sunwater and the transfer of the channels to local management has been discussed since 2012.
In October 2015, the Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply, Mark Bailey announced that four irrigation areas in Eton, Emerald, St George and Theodore would proceed to local management under government- appointed local boards.
Mr Millar says the ability of the boards to succeed will largely rest on the size of the separation payment they receive from Sunwater.
“Unless this amount is known, all other discussion is beside the point. Sunwater would know almost to the dollar what is required for success. Sunwater also knows that the size of the separation payment is fundamental to the financial viability of the Local Management Area Boards.
“If the payment is too small, then the whole thing will fall over. That could be very expensive for local irrigators,” said Mr Millar.
“In his answer to my question the Minister won’t even make it a priority for the first board meetings.
“We are in the ridiculous situation where people are nominating for positions on boards which may well be being set up to fail,” he said.
Mr Millar said that nominations for the board positions closed on February 8, 2016, but the Minister was yet to announce the board appointments.
“It is starting to feel eerily like the QDOG experience and I have to wonder whether there is a hidden agenda in all this. Is the Government dragging its feet so that it doesn’t have to release the funding before it expires next year? Farmers in the four irrigation areas have been very patient but they need some business certainty,” said Mr Millar.
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