QUEENSLAND communities will be crippled by the water buybacks proposed in the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) Northern Basin Review unless a suite of complementary measures that will deliver better environmental outcomes while avoiding unacceptable job losses are implemented.
In a joint statement the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) say the proposed 320 gigalitre water recovery out of northern basin communities will have devastating impacts on agricultural businesses and result in significant job losses.
QFF president Stuart Armitage said the MDBA’s own research shows that the communities in the Northern Basin were already feeling the impacts of the water buybacks.
“The MDBA plan means the Dirranbandi/St George region is expected to lose 35 per cent of all full time jobs,” Mr Armitage said.
“Continued buybacks will decrease agricultural production in the region, negatively impacting people that are directly and indirectly employed, as well as the community as a whole.
“It is hard for even the most resilient of communities to recovery from this level of economic and social damage.”
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said there were real concerns about the impact the proposed buyback would have on local communities.
“The communities in the Balonne Shire have firsthand experience of what reductions in agricultural production will mean for the regional economy,’’ Mr Hallam said.
“The loss of jobs drives people away. Many of them do not return and that not only has economic impacts but social implications as well.
“The council has reported that enrolments at Dirranbandi State School have dropped by 50pc.
“We cannot support any plan that inflicts pain on these communities and it is important the MDBA hears from those directly affected by its decisions.”