By Growcom CEO David Thomson
You learn exactly what’s wrong with water policy and infrastructure investment in a drought.
That’s where we are at the moment. Growers right across the state are struggling with expensive and insecure water.
Putting sunlight aside, water is singularly the most important input to the $2.8 billion horticulture industry and yet precious little is being done by the Queensland Government to sure up supply.
If creating jobs in regional areas is a priority for the Palaszczuk Government, then they should look no further than water infrastructure projects that will underpin an industry that employs about 25,000 people.
Growcom is right behind local growing regions that continue to do the heavy lifting in proving up viable projects in the absence of leadership from Queensland ministers.
Growers on the Granite Belt have moved mountains in developing a water tight study of the Emu Swamp proposal. And they’ve received support from Canberra in the form of local member Minister David Littleproud.
Likewise, growers in the Lockyer Valley recently made a compelling case to the Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, for a scheme that will secure the future of one of Australia’s most important food bowls.
Meanwhile just outside Maryborough, the Glendorf water storage project promises to provide a future for local growers and has also attracted funds from Canberra. Again, so far the Queensland Government has been missing in action.
And it’s not as if there isn’t money in the budget for these projects that will actually grow the Queensland economy. You have to then assume the refusal to fund these projects is based on a crude calculation that has little to do with jobs, and more to do with votes.
There is hope yet. The recent Federal election result shifted the views of the Palaszczuk Government on the merits of the Adani mine. If they can bring themselves to approve a megamine, they can surely tolerate a small storage or dam.
Ahead of the state election next year, we must ensure both major political parties commit to securing not just jobs, but our own fresh, locally grown food supply.