Monday, 2 March 2020
Statements by Members
Last Friday, in my capacity as chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources, I was briefed on Tasmanian Irrigation projects by CEO Andrew Kneebone. He described the 16 Tasmanian Irrigation schemes, some as small as 3,000 megalitres, supporting up to 1,000 farmers and agricultural enterprises, including meat production, dairy, fodder, cereal cropping as well as horticulture. These schemes, dubbed 'the pipeline of prosperity', have led to a massive increase in agricultural production and expansion of Tasmania's food processing capacity. There are 10 more schemes planned, with $100 million in federal government funding already committed to support five of these projects.
Paul Ellery, general manager of program development, and Ian Smith, North Esk project manager, took me on a tour of some of their operations. I visited the Rocklands Dam and the North Esk pump station and heard from farmers how irrigation supplementing their existing water storage had enabled them to expand and invest. They are farmers like Andrew Von Stieglitz, who grazes fat lambs at 65 head per hectare, returning up to $312 per animal. In my travels throughout north-west Tasmania, I saw everywhere the benefits of irrigation to farmers.
Tasmania comprises only two per cent of Australia's land mass, experiences nine per cent of Australia's rainfall and holds 24 per cent of Australia's stored water. Tasmanian agricultural production has increased 3.8 per cent per annum since 2014, over three times the national average. I see tremendous potential for irrigation to improve productivity in the southern forests food bowl in my electorate, from Manjimup to Northcliffe, small and large irrigation projects— (Time expired)