By Growcom Manager, Policy & Advocacy Richard Shannon
Each of the major parties this election campaign have quite rightly responded to calls from industry for a more secure water future.
Secure and affordable water is absolutely essential, not just for regional jobs and economies, but for ensuring we have healthy and fresh food sitting on the table in every Queensland home.
The LNP campaign has featured their New Bradfield Scheme, capturing water due to run into the Coral Sea and sending it inland for irrigation. Most parties have countered with their own versions of Bradfield.
In addition, the LNP have also announced discounts of up to 20 per cent on irrigation water prices, and a number of new or improved water storages.
In contrast Labor has already launched an independent inquiry into the Bradfield concept, and has just announced an assured 15 per cent discount for irrigators across the board, reaching 50 per cent for those growing fruits, vegetables and nuts.
This is on top of a water price freeze and taking on responsibility for dam safety costs at least until the middle of next year.
And both major parties have committed to returning full capacity to the Bundaberg Irrigation Scheme, through either repairing Paradise Dam itself or additional storage capacity elsewhere.
However, in all the election excitement, politicians are at risk of forgetting to expand export market access while we grow our production capacity.
You won’t find too many growers who want to see one additional stick of celery or head of garlic arrive on the domestic market.
Export access is the horse we need before the water cart. We need a trade program here in Queensland that’s at least as ambitious as our water works.
The Queensland Horticulture Council on behalf of our industry is calling on the next Queensland Government to launch a strategic review of high value markets for Queensland grown commodities, including a prioritization of the top 10 markets for which we need to develop export protocols.
The Council is also calling for investment in developing new cold chain options to reduce dependence on airfreight, and funding to build the skills and capacity of growers to engage with overseas markets, including their participation in new virtual trade opportunities and building their own online presence that highlights provenance.
To learn more about A green spring in Queensland, the policy platform of the Queensland horticulture industry, visit our website: www.growcom.com.au/a-green-spring-in-queensland.