Tuesday, 16 October 2018
That the Senate—
(i) the importance of the agricultural industry for the Queensland and Australian economy,
(ii) the need to get water to the drought stricken farmers, to ensure the survival of family farms, and
(iii) that water, via irrigation, is the best form of aid that can be given to farmers;
(c) calls on the Senate to support the construction of the Bradfield Scheme.
The Liberal-National government is investing nearly $2.6 billion through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility. These programs accelerate the construction of economically viable water infrastructure that will deliver secure and affordable water, which will underpin the growth of regional economies and build resilience to drought. The Bradfield Scheme requires a high up-front capital cost that, coupled with the ongoing running cost, would make the project unviable.
Labor oppose this motion because we are yet to see any recent analysis of the scheme. However, Labor not only supports the building of dams where they stack up, unlike the government; Labor have actually built some. On Labor's record on dams: Labor approved the development of Ord stage 2, commenced the process of upgrading Chaffey Dam, funded and opened the headquarters of Milford Dam in Tasmania, commenced construction on the Midlands Water Scheme and continued the Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme. Labor's commitment to dams in northern Australia include an upgrade to the Burdekin Dam, and we will build the Rookwood Weir. It's clear that Labor has a strong record of delivering dam projects. All the government has is words and false claims.
The drought has been extreme and distressing for thousands of farmers and communities in Queensland, particularly in the central west. But with every Queensland drought comes calls for the Bradfield Scheme to be built—an uneconomic and totally discredited white elephant of a project which is indicative of the problems with irrigated agriculture in northern Australia. Even leaving aside the environmental consequences of these schemes, which are massive, they aren't able to deliver reliable water flows and the costs are astronomical. We suggested instead that Senator Anning should back the development of a proper drought policy and, most importantly, start taking seriously the biggest threat to our agricultural community, which of course is climate change.