Queensland Competition Authority Reviews Irrigation Water Prices
The Queensland Premier and Treasurer have directed the Queensland Competition
Authority (QCA) to recommend irrigation prices to apply to a range of SunWater,
water supply schemes from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2016. A final report is due by 30 April 2011.
QCA has stated that it intends to consult with consumers and has invited stakeholders to register their interest in participating in local stakeholder meetings.
Information and Issues papers are available from QCA on 07 3222 0574 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Premier and Treasurer have directed the QCA as follows:
For water supply schemes bulk water supply and channel prices/tariff structures are to be set to provide a revenue stream that allows SunWater to recover:
a) Its efficient operational, maintenance and administrative costs.
b) Its expenditure on renewing and rehabilitating existing assets, whether through a renewals annuity or a regulatory depreciation allowance.
c) A rate of return on assets valued at 1 July 2011.
d) After 1 July 2011, a return of, and on, prudent capital expenditure on existing assets or for constructing new assets.
The QCA must undertake an open consultation process with all relevant parties and consider submissions within the timetable for the delivery of the Final Report to Government. All reports and submissions must be made publicly available, including on the QCA’s website.
The QCA must provide to the responsible Ministers and the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade:
a) A Draft Report and draft irrigation prices by no later than 31 January 2011.
b) A Final Report and recommended price paths by no later than 30 April 2011 for the five year period commencing 1 July 2011.
Sugar cane irrigators across Qld should be concerned. These directives are very clear and could lead to increased water prices in each scheme. ACFA will be involved in ensuring Government is responsible in its approach and that farmers’ ability to pay must be taken into account. Water prices that make farmers unviable and unable to compete on the world stage will benefit no one.
Stakeholder meetings are proposed for 21 May and will be advertised locally. I encourage all irrigators to be actively involved and make it known to local politicians that the stakes are high for rural areas.
2010 Crushing Season
Farmers have now had time to realistically assess the damage to cane crops. The reports I am getting suggest we have been fortunate and the damage could have been much greater.
Cane crops in the Proserpine region were hit the hardest but the crop is recovering quickly.
Some varieties have sustained more damage than others but the major varieties like Q208 have faired reasonable well.
There are areas where cane has been broken and the damage here will be the greatest.
In addition, the rainfall and associated flooding was below what might have been expected and this has reduced the damage and stress on the crop.
There has also been damage to Mackay sugar and Proserpine mills but it appears there will be no delays to the start of crushing.
I would estimate CCS levels for the 2010 season will be 0.5 – 0.75 of a unit lower than what would have been normally expected due to the severe lodging.
AGM and Conference
The ACFA board meeting AGM and Annual conference where held in Hervey bay on March 23 – 24th. The speakers at the conference included David Brown, CEO of Burnett Mary Region Group, Denis Heron, Water Reuse Manager for Wide Bay Water and Dr Lukas Van Swieten, Senior Research Scientist from Climate in Primary Industries.