Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Water torture: Growers left in limbo again

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Federal Member for Flynn Colin Boyce are calling on the Albanese Government to commit to restoring Paradise Dam once and for all.

Fruit and vegetable growers in the Bundaberg region are again faced with uncertainty after the Federal Water Minister said she was “carefully considering all dam funding announcements from the previous government”. 

In February 2022, the previous Coalition Government committed up to $600 million to restore Paradise Dam to its former full capacity of 300,000 megalitres, but now this looks in doubt.

“It’s another broken election promise by the Albanese Government and the people of this region deserve better,” Mr Pitt said.

“When the then Opposition Leader visited Bundaberg in July last year, he supported the restoration of the dam and stated he hoped the rebuild could be brought forward. In March, former Labor MP Terri Butler, Senator Chisholm and local Labor candidates announced that Labor would commit to rebuilding the dam. No if’s, no but’s, no maybes.

“Now to hear that the Water Minister is considering dam funding announcements will bring back the uncertainty our growers faced for 868 days before the Queensland State Labor Government would commit to rebuilding the dam.

“It’s unacceptable to me that the Albanese Government is considering backflipping on this vital infrastructure project. This is people’s livelihoods that are at risk.

“The Prime Minister needs to come clean, is Paradise Dam funded in the Budget or not?”

Federal Member for Flynn Colin Boyce said into the future, water infrastructure is critical, particularly to the high value agricultural sector.

“For the Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek to be even considering not providing the funding to the rebuild of Paradise Dam makes no sense, whatsoever,” Mr Boyce said.

“Minister Plibersek needs to understand that no water means no food. Water infrastructure is fundamental in the Bundaberg region considering it produces 25% of Australia’s fresh produce.

“We need to put this dam back the way it was and return the 300,000 megalitres of water storage so that it can ensure the future viability of the sugar, fruit, vegetable and nut industry.”

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