Channel irrigation schemes invited to develop local management proposals

Published Wednesday, 19 December, 2012 at 09:16 AM

Minister for Energy and Water Supply
The Honourable Mark McArdle

Queensland’s eight channel irrigation schemes will be invited to develop business proposals to transition from SunWater to local management.

Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle established a working group in July to determine the level of interest in local management arrangements.

“The working group has found that both SunWater and irrigators are committed to undertaking detailed investigation of local management options,” Mr McArdle said. 

“Irrigators know this will help develop the sector and strengthen the economic base of local communities.

“The Government wants to work with irrigators and interested parties to look at the necessary policy and business reform to ensure irrigation in Queensland will be sustainable over the long term.”

Mr McArdle said well-respected farmer, irrigator and National Water Commissioner Leith Boully had agreed to lead the second stage of the investigation after chairing the first.

“The second stage of the investigation will resource each of the eight schemes to establish interim boards, which will carry out the necessary due diligence and business planning required to develop comprehensive business proposals,” he said.

“It is expected that a number of locally specific matters will be raised during this process.”

Mr McArdle said the Government would look for proposals which demonstrated the channel schemes could realise significant benefits from local management and provide improved economic and environmental outcomes.

“With some 2,500 irrigators involved, local management of irrigation channels represents a major reform with critical implications for Queensland’s agricultural sector,” he said.

“I will be setting up a solid framework for this investigation to ensure it can deliver the best possible information and analysis on which Government can base its future decisions around local management.

“The Government is committed to building agriculture as one of the four pillars of the economy and the next stage of this investigation will show whether irrigation reform can contribute to this vision.”

Mr McArdle said the Government would only proceed to a local management model if it was clearly in the interests of the irrigators, taxpayers and the State.

Stage 2 is expected to conclude in the second half of 2013, with the Government then deciding whether or not to implement local management arrangements.

The working group’s Stage 1 report is available at Further information on implementation will be available in early 2013. 

[ENDS] 19 December 2012

Media contact: Minister’s Office 07 3896 3694 /0419 774 836