With the Federal Election result now clear, it is time for the returning Liberal-National Coalition to get back to the business of governing. The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) is looking forward to constructively working with the federal government to represent our members’ interests and ensure the implementation of the Coalition’s election agenda works for Queensland farmers.
As the peak body representing irrigated agriculture in Queensland, QFF must play a key role in the Coalition’s commitment to establish the ‘National Water Grid’. This new statutory authority is intended to deliver strategic planning and project management for water infrastructure and policy across the nation, with $3 billion earmarked to work with state and territory governments to fast track water projects. The first order of business for the National Water Grid will be to look at how large-scale water diversion projects could be established to deliver reliable and cost-effective water to farmers and regional communities.
To deliver greater water security for rural communities, grow jobs and underpin new and expanded agriculture and support regional economic growth, lessons must be learnt from previous water policies including the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. It is imperative that local issues are understood and inform potential water projects to ensure positive outcomes. For example, in Queensland we are currently challenged with making our surface and groundwater systems more viable under the current water and energy frameworks, particularly regarding cost recovery policies. The significant amount of underutilised water in these systems is growing and solutions are needed for additional water in highly productive established agricultural areas.
In pursuing the National Water Grid, greater collaboration is needed between the federal and state governments and irrigating industry groups. The National Water Grid must be led by objective, pragmatic people who understand what is happening on the ground if it is to realise strategic and long-term benefits for irrigated agriculture. Anyone doubting this should think about the state of the National Electricity Market.