CA’s Queensland Policy Manager, Michael Murray, discussed the regional planning process, which is currently underway in Central Queensland and the Darling Downs, with Deputy Premier, Jeff Seeney,
The Deputy Premier said following recommendations from two committees mid-next year on any development restrictions that should apply to agricultural land in these regions, a draft report would be released which would be subject to full community consultation.
It is expected that the committees’ recommendations, if adopted by government, will supersede the current Strategic Cropping Land legislation.
When questioned on whether the Arrow Energy Environmental Authority for its Darling Downs project would be considered prior to the conclusion of this planning process, Mr Seeney said it would not.
A meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, John McVeigh, focussed on the future of the Emerald Agriculture College, which is subject to a further report on the College’s finances from Ernst and Young.
This will be the catalyst for further discussions with the Emerald community, which has invested considerable time and effort developing a plan that should ensure the long-term future of the College as a provider of relevant agricultural education.
Discussions with the Minister for Natural Resources, Andrew Cripps, focussed on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and the allocation of new water entitlements in the Flinders River region.
Mr Cripps said he remained dissatisfied with the proposed Basin Plan, because despite assurances, there was still no funding for structural adjustment, resourcing of local groups, or implementation activities.
With regards to the Flinders River, he said tenders for the initial release of entitlement were about to close, and he was open to make more water available in the region in the future.
Mr Murray briefed the Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Mark McArdle, on the genuine interest of channel scheme irrigators to fully engage in a due diligence process with the view to assuming management of the SunWater channel distribution schemes.
In particular, Mr Murray told the Minister that willingness to assume management and ownership would depend on the outcome of both financial analysis and full engineering audits of the scheme’s assets, which along with any agreed separation payments would determine the scheme’s viability.
Mr Murray also spoke to the Minister about the impact of rapidly rising electricity costs and the total inadequacy of the tariff structures proposed by the Queensland Competition Authority earlier this year.
During the Community Cabinet event, Mr Murray also spoke to the local Member and Minister for Health, Lawrence Springborg; Minister for Transport, Scott Emerson; and Assistant Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Lisa France.
“It was a bit of a cross between speed-dating and attending your children’s parent teacher interviews,” Mr Murray said, but it was a very worthwhile exercise.
During the afternoon Mr Murray said he caught up with a number of cotton growers who were taking the opportunity to discuss issues with the Ministers present.
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