Local management of irrigation channel schemes marches forward

Published Thursday, 04 July, 2013 at 06:00 AM

Minister for Energy and Water Supply
The Honourable Mark McArdle

Interim boards are now investigating the options for local management of eight channel irrigation schemes across Queensland in a bid to transfer distribution assets from the State Government to entities owned and managed by the water users supplied by the scheme.

Chairs have been selected from Theodore, Bundaberg, Burdekin-Haughton, Emerald, Eton, Lower Mary, Mareeba-Dimbulah and St George SunWater channel schemes to lead the development of commercial business plans.

Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark McArdle said it was a step in the right direction for irrigators who held their first meeting of the Local Management Arrangements Working Group (LMA WG) last week.

“In July 2012, the Queensland Government responded to calls from irrigators to move assets of the eight channel irrigation schemes to irrigator-owned and managed entities,” Mr McArdle said.

“The Newman 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.

“The proposals need to demonstrate how the channel schemes could realise significant benefits from local management and provide improved economic and environmental outcomes.”

Leader of the project team and Independent Chair of the LMA WG, Ms Leith Boully, said she was confident the boards would be able to develop business plans that demonstrated local management could be successful.

“While the due diligence process is complex and challenging, the Chairs and their boards are pragmatic, competent and positive about the opportunity that a move to local management offers.”

Key Dates:
• July/August/September 2013: Legal, engineering and financial due diligence conducted
• October/November 2013: Business planning and proposals developed
• 30 November 2013: Business proposals submitted
• December/January 2014: Final report prepared for Government by independent project team on the case for local management
• February/March 2014: Government assessment of business proposals and case for local management
• April/May 2014: Government decision on Local Management Arrangements

To be part of the process, contact the board or find more information about local management for channel irrigation schemes at www.lmairrigation.com.au.

[ENDS] 4 July 2013

Media Contact: Natalie Wynne 38 963 690/0437 334 183