The Queensland Parliament has passed legislation that would allow irrigators in rural communities to manage their own water schemes in the future.
Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said he was thrilled that the Water (Local Management Arrangements) Amendment Bill 2016 was now in place.
“This is an important part of the Palaszczuk Government delivering on its election commitment to continue to progress local management arrangements, and advances the reform further than under any other government,” Mr Bailey said.
“Today we saw a major win for irrigators in the channel irrigation schemes and for the Queensland agriculture industry who rely on our state’s valuable water resources.”
Mr Bailey said following the passing of the legislation, four schemes in Emerald, Eton, St George and Theodore now had the framework they needed to complete the next stage of the local management arrangements project over the next 12 months.
“If there is sufficient support from irrigators in Emerald, Eton, St George and Theodore, local management arrangements will commence in their local communities once the due diligence process has been completed and all parties have agreed to the final terms of the transfer.
“I truly believe this will be remembered as an historical turning point in many rural communities and I would like to acknowledge the hard work of members of all boards who are diligently working to deliver this project, and those in our regional communities who have been dedicating their time to this reform.”
Mr Bailey said irrigators in four other SunWater channel irrigation schemes were investigating whether they too could be given ownership and operational control.
“Investigation Boards for the Bundaberg, Burdekin-Haughton, Lower Mary and Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation schemes will deliver revised business cases setting out how they may operate under local management,” Mr Bailey said.
“The government will then consider whether any of those schemes are also ready to commence the transition to local management.
“This is another part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to supporting regional and rural communities and we’ve managed to pass this legislation in the week of our second anniversary in government.”